Environmental Advocacy

In collaboration with the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, Youth Voice One Vision (YVOV), youth from the Urban Ecologist Program of the Seneca Park Zoo Foundation, and support from the Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) initiative, City Council and Mayor Lovely Warren have adopted a Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights (COBOR). This bill defines a list of outdoor activities that all children should have the right to experience, and serves as a tool to help guide priorities and decisions regarding access to nature and funding, so that all of Rochester’s children have equitable access to the outdoor experiences that are crucial for healthy development.   

“The Children’s Bill of Rights is our pledge to provide every child in our city equal access to nature and the outdoors,” said Mayor Warren. “We are going to close the Nature Gap of racial and economic disparity that causes some children to stay inside. Enriching the lives of young people with the ability play and learn in nature is critical to the success of our Equity and Recovery Agenda and our goals to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities.”

 

Rochester Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights  

The Rochester Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights is intended as a guide to enable children and adults of Rochester to develop healthy, active lifestyles by spending more time outdoors. Exploring the wonders of our natural world will help children learn to appreciate and care for Rochester’s abundant natural resources. As the future citizens and leaders of Rochester, a city uniquely rich in natural resources, our children are entitled to:

Learn to Take Care of Our Planet

Children develop an appreciation and a sense of responsibility for preserving our natural resources by spending time in nature while they are young. They learn to value the natural world through involvement in activities like planting trees or gardening, picking up litter and recycling, taking part in stream cleanup, wetland and prairie restoration efforts.   

Learn to Swim

Swimming is a low impact activity that provides excellent exercise. It is ideal for long term health and wellness, unlike other sports and exercise that contribute to the premature breakdown of the body. Learning to swim also builds confidence and opens up many opportunities for outdoor engagement.    

Play in Clean Rivers and Lakes

Water is essential to all life on Earth and is an abundant natural resource in Rochester. Children have the right to explore clean and healthy waterways and understand how they play a role in recreation and conservation, from skipping rocks and studying turtles to sloshing in puddles to fishing and boating.

Grow and Harvest Food to Eat

Children can learn much by observing plant and animal life cycles. They gain an understanding of the nurturing capacity of the Earth by digging in the soil, finding worms, and planting seeds and watching them grow into flowers and food.  

Explore Nature in Neighborhoods

Children should be able to safely explore their community green spaces and learn to appreciate their natural surroundings. They need to know the diversity of nature found in their own backyard and nearby parks. It is important that every child has the opportunity to safely engage in physical activities that allow them to explore their surrounding environment.    

Listen to the Sounds of Nature

Listening to the sounds of nature is associated with a decrease in the body's sympathetic response, and an increase in parasympathetic response, which helps the body relax and function in normal circumstances. This has s a profound impact on our brains and our behavior, helping us to reduce anxiety, brooding, and stress, and increase our attention capacity, creativity, and our ability to connect with other people.  

Observe a Starry Sky

Viewing a sky full of stars inspires a sense of wonder and perspective for our place here on Earth. Stargazing offers a great opportunity to introduce children to math concepts such as counting, identifying shapes, and tracing patterns, as well as the opportunity to learn about light pollution and the scale of human impact on the planet.  

Go Camping

Children need to spend time in nature away from computers, television, cell phones and electronic gadgets to quietly reflect. Every child should have a camp-like experience in nature, where they can fully immerse themselves in the benefits of nature.    

Follow a Hiking Trail

Children have an innate curiosity. They need to discover paths that are new to them and follow trails that show them the wonders of the natural world; to watch bugs and hear birds; to touch and smell leaves and see creatures crawling on a log.   

Play in the Snow

Encouraging children to play outside in all weather builds resilience and adaptability. It also saves them from a life where the conditions of outdoor play are dependent on warmth and sun which are limited at certain times of year.    

Learn to Ride a Bike

Riding a bicycle helps build strength, balance and bilateral coordination as well as offering full body sensory awareness which helps children with attention and focusing. Learning a to ride a bike at a young age also builds confidence and allows children to safely explore further than they would on foot, while gaining a better understanding of their community and a more accurate perception of their surroundings.    

Discover Wildlife

Experiences with wildlife can have a profound impact on child development. Children’s innate interest in animals is biological: they are drawn to and curious about species that are different than human and in many cases children  have an instinct to want to care for or nurture creatures that are small and vulnerable, which should be encouraged to promote empathy and connectedness to the living world.     

NEWS RELEASE -- CITY ADOPTS CHILDREN’S OUTDOOR BILL OF RIGHTS TO GUARANTEE EVERY CHILD EQUAL ACCESS TO NATURE  https://www.cityofrochester.gov/article.aspx?id=21474847257   

Contact

Department of Recreation & Human Services
Stephanie Benway, Environmental Education Specialist
 
Stephanie.Benway@CityofRochester.gov