It isn’t every couple that share a passion beyond their own children to reach children everywhere. John and Janet Ray of Milton do. They believe in the motto “No Child Left Inside.” And this battle cry is turning into a national movement to get children out and about in today’s world away from high-tech and sedentary pursuits, at least for part of each day.
“We know that technology is an important aspect of a child’s life now so that the child can learn and compete as an adult in today’s world,” said John. “But the child needs to know that it’s good, healthy, and worth exploring in the outdoors in this world, away from television, computers and numerous electronic gadgets. Parents can help by setting an example.”
Both John and Janet have backgrounds that lend themselves to this calling, along with the fact they have four children and eight grandchildren. “In our family, here at the beach, we try to do things such as walks at the beach and in the parks,” John said. “And, we go to the local parks for activities, among other things.”
He added, “Today’s children need to know how to explore the outdoors and learn to play in it, whether it’s riding a bike or doing a hike in different places.”
Retired now, but active in different ways, John has experience as a high school physical health educator, a sports coach, and an assistant principal. In 2001, he was hired out of retirement to work for the Delaware Department of Education, doing work on coordinating school health programs. A plan for Delaware to encourage environmental education for young people in the state is being worked on. Similar work is being done in other states.
John has other educational interests such as teaching golf at Dover Air Force Base and Del Tech, and conducting golf camps in the summer. He is a highly qualified golf professional and loves teaching young people about the sport.
John also teaches two physical education classes at Delaware State University which he calls Adventures ED. “We do team building with outdoor games,” he said. “And, we teach the teachers, too.”
Janet recently retired from the Delaware Department of Education where as a former teacher and registered nurse, she worked in health education curriculum, specifically HIV and teen pregnancy prevention, and safe and drug-free schools. Since retiring, she has joined he Delaware Council on Gambling Problems to support education and training on addiction, including gambling.
“Books by noted author Richard Louv are helpful to parents and others interested in the ‘No Child Left Inside’ cause,” said John. “For example, his book titled ‘Last Child in the Woods’ really spells out the reasons why such a focus is needed.”
John said, “As parents and grandparents who may still remember life before the technology explosion, we need to do something to help the young people in our lives experience and appreciate the outdoors. Each generation needs to make sure that technology indoors is not the only learning that needs to take place in a child’s life.”
John and Janet encourage parents to look at their children and grandchildren, and see how the environment is impacting their lives, and find ways to teach young people how to explore in the great outdoors.
For more information, go to www.NoChildLeftInside.org.