Hi. I'm Elizabeth E. Williams. But since you're here, you can call me Liz.
Together, we go on all sorts of adventures. And each time I show him a new activity or introduce him to a new experience in the great big world around us, I see how his face lights up with joy and wonder. Every new encounter becomes a new color in his personal palette. And best of all - his enthusiasm has given me a renewed interest in going outside to play!
Through my son, I've come to understand that physical activity and spending time outdoors are not just ways to kill time. They are essential parts of a child's learning and development. I want other kids to experience the same joy, wonder and curiosity I see in my son's eyes.
I created the The Adventures of Joyful John series of children's books as a way of sharing my son's outdoor adventures and encouraging kids and parents to get outside and play!
Ready for adventure?
Why Playing Outdoors Is So Important
Getting kids active outdoors can help prevent a number of chronic health issues from childhood to adulthood.
It's a fact. Today's youth are less connected to the outdoors than earlier generations. Electronic devices have become the primary means for kids to entertain themselves, whether they're alone or with friends or siblings.
It's also a fact that too much screen time - i.e., time spent in front of a tv, tablet, phone or computer - can contribute to the development of ADD, ADHD and other behavioral challenges. Fortunately, studies have shown that time spent in green, outdoor spaces can help lessen symptoms of ADHD and ADD.
Minority groups and young adults are more likely to have social or economic barriers that keep them from getting out into nature. Providing positive and relatable role models and easy-to-adopt outdoor activities are critical actions for closing the so-called 'adventure gap' in the American outdoors.
With my series of children's books, my work with healthcare and community organizations and my speaking engagements, I hope to be a positive role model to encourage people of color - especially young children - to get outdoors more often. I recommend starting with simple, no- or low- cost outdoor activities like: hopscotch or jump rope. If you have kids, make sure they go outside and play 4-5 days a week. By getting kids hooked on playing outside at an early age, you can reduce their chances of developing lifestyle diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure as they grow older.