Celebrate National Wildlife Week March 15-21.

Get wild, child!

It's time to get those "inside kids" to take a walk on the wild side, and National Wildlife Week is the perfect time to do it.

Sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Week encourages kids to unleash their wild child to learn, explore, discover and imagine, surrounded by a world of green. The theme this year, Be Out There At Home, School and Play, will bring children and their families together in nature, get schools involved in going green, and will show kids how the outdoors can be a favorite play space.

The first National Wildlife Week observance took place more than 70 years ago when kids spent time climbing trees, skipping stones and running barefoot in the grass. How times have changed. Children today spend only 4-7 minutes outside each day on average, while engaged with electronic media an astounding 7 hours and 38 minutes a day on average according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"We're raising a generation of indoor children who are missing out on the simple joys found in nature," said Rebecca Garland, executive director of NWF's Be Out There movement. "Our kids need to know why they call it the great outdoors."

Lack of outdoor time has been linked to childhood obesity, depression, stress, and ADD. Time in nature improves children's physical, mental and emotional health, boosts classroom performance and encourages conservation stewardship. First Lady Michele Obama's new initiative says "Let's Move." The National Wildlife Federation says, "Let Move Outside."

National Wildlife Week's website, www.nwf.org/wildlifeweek, offers Be Out There resources for kids, parents and educators, including an official Family Activity Passport with a week's worth of local plant and animal wildlife watch lists and fun nature-themed games; NWF's NatureFind program, www.nwf.org/naturefind, locates nearby outdoor recreation spots where National Wildlife Week is in full swing; and the Educator Activity Guide which offers teachers and administrators tips and activities to green their schools through NWF's EcoSchools USA program.

A part of National Wildlife Federation's Be Out There movement, celebrating National Wildlife Week is a way to develop happier, healthier kids with a life-long appreciation of nature. Go to www.nwf.org/wildlifeweek for simple, fun ideas that can be done anywhere there's a patch of green and go wild, child!