Getting Kids Outdoors: ICAN Do It (and You Can Help)!

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Play Outdoors

Yesterday I had the privilege of sitting in a room filled with people who have the same mission as we do here at The Risky Kids: to get kids outside as much as possible. I was there with educators, non-profits, medical professionals and law enforcement officers to learn more about the Indiana Children and Nature Network (ICAN).

ICAN is a grassroots movement organized by outdoor and environmental educators from around the state of Indiana. Their goal is to connect children, families and communities to nature and the great outdoors. They called us together because they want and need our help to spread the message and get kids outdoors. Their main focus right now is broken into three groups:

The Medical Community (mainly pediatricians and family practitioners): using them to spread the word and educate parents on the importance of children spending time outside each day.

Early Childhood Educators: introduce young children to the outdoors early to build lifelong habits.

Family Nature Clubs: facilitate the development of Family Nature Clubs throughout Indiana, connecting families and communities to nature.

And that’s where I come in. In addition to starting our own Family Nature Club, I’m hoping to help inspire and educate others on how they can do the same. As I sat there listening to the spirited discussions, one audience member pointed out that in the end, it is the parents that need convincing. They have to feel as if they are doing a good thing by letting their kids roam and play outside, instead of feeling like bad or neglectful parents.

I stood up and introduced myself and told them about The Risky Kids, and all of my wonderful readers. I told them about how that is exactly what inspires me to share our story week after week: to build confidence among families that they can choose a more playful life, with more joy and less worry. That this kind of parenting is the new (old) normal, and that by giving our kids the gift of freedom and outdoor time we are raising a happy, healthy, self-reliant generation of kids.

I will continue to keep you up to date on the progression of ICAN’s mission and on the Family Nature Club. In the meantime, please check out their website, including their resources for starting your own Family Nature Club. If you’re not local to Indiana, check out the Children & Nature Network for more information on how you can get involved. Finally, I’ll leave you with the Nature Connection Pyramid. This was a handout we received and I couldn’t love it anymore. It’s such a helpful and wonderful reminder of how important outside time is for kids, and how easily it can be incorporated into our everyday life. Enjoy … and go play outside!

nature connection pyramid



  1. What a great organization! I am a huge advocate for park adventures. My parents always booked a cabin in Brown County State Park over Memorial Day weekend as a little getaway. I have vivid memories of trails, horseback riding, swimming and just overall enjoyment. You are so right – kids MUST play outdoors!

  2. What an amazing venture- can’t wait to hear more. The hardest thing is to get the kids outside…once they’re out there, rarely do they want to come back in!

    • Isn’t that the truth! There’s almost always that window period when my kids whine, say they’re bored, or don’t want to go outside. But once we get out there and start playing it’s like pulling teeth to get them back indoors for dinner or bedtime!


  1. […] like to do over the break, I was reminded of another list I picked up while attending the Indiana Children and Nature Network meeting a couple of weeks […]

  2. […] day of it. And while that is all well and good (and should be done now and then, according to the Nature Connection Pyramid), we can all make nature exploration a part of our lives without much time, effort or money. […]