815 Outside touts benefits of connecting with nature in Winnebago County

Source: Rockford Register Star

By Ken DeCoster 
Staff writer 

Posted Apr 26, 2019 at 3:50 PM

ROCKFORD — Put away the laptop, ditch the smartphone and reconnect with nature.

That’s the thrust behind a countywide initiative called 815 Outside, an alliance of nonprofit and public service organizations promoting opportunities to connect with green spaces and experience nature for enhanced quality of life.

The initiative was launched during a news conference Friday at Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve in southeast Winnebago County.

“The two big reasons for establishing 815 Outside are to promote healthy living in our community and to promote the positive community economic development that can come with the large amounts of natural areas that we have,” Severson Dells Nature Center Director Ann Wasser said.

Winnebago County ranks among the unhealthiest counties in the state, Wasser said, based on a wide range of indicators such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.