At the Y, we believe when kids play outside, they’re getting more than just fresh air; they’re having experiences that will positively impact their physical and emotional well-being, shaping them into healthier kids and, one day, healthier adults. active outdoor play is core component of our youth programming— look no further than Camp Widjiwagan or our summer day camps.

It’s also our belief that the Y’s youth programming and emphasis on active play and healthy living can’t alone solve the dire need to bring down Davidson County’s alarming childhood obesity rate—now at 26 percent—without working alongside our community partners in that effort.

This week, the Y mobilized those partners to do just that, hosting a summit of community leaders focused on planning the next phase of the Nashville’s involvement in the “Let’s Move! Outside” initiative. Nashville joins 50 other cities over the next few years in this national initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama. The initiative focuses on increasing opportunities for children and families in Nashville to work, learn, play, and serve outdoors.

The "Let’s Move! Outside" initiative encourages our kids to get active outdoors, but also to be good stewards of our public land,” said Ted Cornelius, the Y’s VP of health innovation. “We have so many beautiful public spaces in Nashville that include our parks and greenways, and we want for these assets to continue to be a great resource for our kids, families and the community in the years ahead.”

Richard Louv, who spoke about the benefits of increased outdoor activity and urged Nashville to find ways to incorporate outside time into family life. "If environmental activists only work with other environmental activists, they lose. If teachers only work with teachers, they lose," said Louv, who was heartened to see the diverse makeup of the leaders gathered together.

His words on the benefits of the great outdoors to our community’s kids—and the importance of reducing the “nature deficit” they experience—were a resonant, inspiring reminder that creating opportunities for kids and families to thrive outside makes for not only healthier kids, but also a stronger community.

A line from Louv’s Last Child in the Woods says it best. “Reducing that deficit—healing the broken bond between our young and nature—is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demands it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depends upon it.”

Learn more about the "Let's Move! Outside" initiative here.