“The year took its toll on all of us, and especially kids.”

Generation Wild Launches “Just 20 Minutes Outside” Campaign to Benefit Children’s Mental Health
Courtesy of Generation Wild
Back yard camping is one recommended activity.
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An initiative kicked off this summer by Great Outdoors Colorado aims to tackle the toll on children’s mental health stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “Just 20 Minutes Outside” campaign, launched in response to a pandemic-fueled surge of depression, anxiety, sleep complications, and behavioral and emotional changes among youth, is a product of Generation Wild, a GOCO offshoot created specifically to reconnect kids with all the outdoor playgrounds Colorado has to offer.

“Kids have so much stress. Any time we can take away their stress and let a little air out of that balloon, that helps it from bursting,” Children’s Hospital Colorado clinical child psychologist Jenna Glover said in a statement about the program. “Research shows that kids who spent more time in green spaces growing up had lower rates of mental illness as adults. So that’s what I tell parents: What you do now with your kids outdoors will protect them throughout their lives.”

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As part of the program, Generation Wild is providing participants with a downloadable list (available in English and Spanish) of unstructured play activities designed to alleviate stress, improve focus, and boost self-esteem. Options include creating a bike obstacle course, camping in the backyard, scavenger hunts, numerous arts and crafts activities, and more.

“Kids are under pressure these days,” GOCO Executive Director Chris Castilian said in a release. “Family life is always busy, but the pandemic upended normal routines, adding to stress. The year took its toll on all of us, and especially kids. Now more than ever, it’s important for kids to get outside for stress-relieving nature breaks. … Generation Wild’s new list of 20 ideas for spending 20 minutes outside makes that easy to do.”

Generation Wild is funded by a coalition of partners, such as the aforementioned Children’s Hospital Colorado, and comprises 12 communities throughout Colorado that offer equitable programs for families to enjoy the benefits of the outdoors. Learn more about their initiatives here.