OAK Annual Meeting and Advocacy Day, ECHO Webinar and other news

Outdoor Alliance for Kids

OAK September 2014 Newsletter

OAK Annual Meeting and Advocacy Day – September 8-9, 2014

OAK Advocacy Day 2014OAK’s Annual Membership Meeting in Washington, DC was a huge success! OAK members traveled from across the country to attend the meeting to share ideas and discuss how best to advance OAK’s goals. We were fortunate to have in attendance members from the FICOR (Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor Recreation) working group to lead a session on shaping an action plan with OAK that will result in more children and youth outdoors. We look forward to turning all the great ideas generated by our members into action.

The passion and commitment you shared during our meeting was overwhelming and I am so thankful to each and every one of you for bringing your energy and ideas to the table. It is because of the collective work and collaborative nature of this group that more and more kids and youth will have opportunities to improve their health by getting outdoors.    – Jackie Ostfeld of the Sierra Club and OAK’s Chair

During the OAK membership meeting, OAK co-founder and steering committee member REI announced another $30,000 commitment to advance OAK’s overarching goals. Thank you, REI!

On September 9th, OAK members took on Capital Hill and participated in 20 meetings with members of Congress and their staff to discuss a suite of bills to get youth active outdoors.  For a complete list of policy positions, take a look at OAK’s lobby leave behind, which covers Active Transportation and No Child Left Inside, Healthy Kids Outdoors, and Public Lands Service Corps.  Thanks to all of OAK members who participated and to everyone who signed onto OAK’s legislative agenda.

  SAVE THE DATE: ECHO Across America Toolkit Webinar 

OAK Go Week Collage

Just Launched! OAK’s ECHO (Every Child Healthy Outdoors) Across America Toolkit. OAK’s ECHO Across America Toolkit provides a series of resources and templates to:

  • Convene a meeting of leaders of organizations in your state or city,
  • Conduct an assessment of your state or city’s existing children, youth and families and the outdoors policies and initiatives,
  • Set goals for policies that your governor or mayor can adopt,
  • Launch a campaign to get your governor or mayor working on this policy agenda.

The goal of OAK’s ECHO Across America initiative is to bring state and local leaders together to launch a comprehensive multi-sector plan to get more kids and families outdoors.

Join us for a webinar on Monday, October 6th from 3:00pm – 4:30pm ET, where members of OAK will present the toolkit, share local success stories and discuss ways in which you and/or your organization can lead or get involved with ECHO in your city/state.  Please use this link to register for the webinar on October 6th!

Please help us get the word out by sharing this announcement with colleagues and coalitions with whom you work!

Active Transportation Options Provide Youth and Families Access to Safe Connections to the Outdoors

OAK Girl BikingNearly three-out-of-four adolescents do not currently get the recommended amount of aerobic exercise and strength training each week and studies have also found that building bike and pedestrian trails reduces health care costs associated with physical inactivity. For every dollar invested in building these trails, nearly $3 in medical cost savings may be achieved. 

All Americans, particularly children, youth, and those who have no other independent means of mobility should have access to transportation options that are safe, accessible, connected to parks and public lands, and promote physical activities such as biking and walking. Supporting these goals when designing transportation infrastructure is critical to creating more livable and active communities, and improving public health. 

MAP-21 is scheduled to expire at the end of May 2015. Reauthorization of MAP-21 provides a critical opportunity to strengthen our investments in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. 

Specifically, OAK supports a reauthorization of MAP-21 that: 

  • Maintains funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).
  • Provides more control of TAP funding to local communities.
  • Allows an 80/20 matches across all TAP projects instead of to each individual project.

To further support the reauthorization positions, OAK supports the following legislation:

  • Safe Streets Act [H.R. 2468 and S. 2004]
  • New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act [H.R. 3978]

Read more about OAK’s position on active transportation and other policies to get kids and youth outdoors. 

Bring Nature Play to Every Community

OAK Nature PlayThe National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Learning Initiative releasedNature Play & Learning Places: Creating and Managing Places Where Children Engage with Nature, an illustrated guide for bringing nature play areas to children in every community. The guide explains how to plan, design, and manage nature play areas, so kids can connect with nature at everyday places like parks, schools, and childcare centers. 

Most children’s playgrounds are metal, plastic, concrete and devoid of nature. These guidelines show how to create a new type of play area with natural materials (Trees! Flowers!) so children and families have an integrated experience with wildlife and nature everywhere in their community. Two chapters are devoted to the management, maintenance, and risk management of this type of community space.   

Decoding the human genome was impressive. The internet has been transformative. Big data are amazing. But a child playing in the woods? That simple, time-honored image is at once magical, and powerful and inspiring.   –  Howard Frumkin, M.D., Dr. Ph., from the Forward to Nature Play and Learning Places

To download and read the full text of the guidelines, visit www.natureplayandlearning.org, and please share the resource with your networks.

Register Today – Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day 


International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and their members around the world are excited to celebrate the eleventh-annual Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day (TKMBD) on Saturday, October 4, 2014. The event offers a grassroots celebration of play on two wheels. Events range in size and scope from community-wide events to neighborhood outings hosted by a couple of families.

Registration is open if you would like to have your event featured on the TKMBD calendar, map and receive a care kit with bike plates, stickers, snacks and more.

To learn more about TKMBD, visit IMBA’s event website.

OAK Nature Play 2ICYMI OAK Members Have Been Blogging

Nature Play Coming to Every Community by Allen Cooper, National Wildlife Federation

Keys to Keeping Your Outdoor Classroom by Susan Wirth, Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and the Arbor Day Foundation

Want to contribute to OAK’s blog or social media platforms? We want to hear from you. Submit your request now!

Are you missing OAK’s blogs when they are posted? Be sure to subscribe to follow OAK’s blog today! 

OAK Upcoming Events Calendar

September 16-18, 2014 Wilderness Week
September 22, 2014 Partnership for 21CSC Meeting
September 27, 2014 ATC’s Family Hiking Day
September 27, 2014 National Public Lands Day
October 4, 2014 IMBA’s National Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day
October 8-11, 2014 43rd NAAEE Conference

Is your organization hosting a conference or event that you would like featured on OAK’s event calendar? Submit your request now!

Help Us Grow OAK

Do you know another business or organization that share’s OAK’s mission to expand the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors?

Encourage them to become a member and refer them to our Join OAK page

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