RELEASE: OAK Celebrates Launch of “Every Kid in a Park” Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 1, 2015

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld; 202-548-6584; jackie.ostfeld@sierraclub.org

OAK Celebrates Launch of “Every Kid in a Park” Initiative

Washington, D.C. — On September 1, the Obama administration launched the Every Kid in a Park initiative to inspire a new generation to get outside and to become stewards of our nation’s cultural and natural heritage. Through this new initiative, every fourth grader in America can obtain a pass for free entry for them and their families into more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide for an entire year, starting September 1, 2015.

For many children, spending time outdoors isn’t always easy or safe. Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and youth spend less time outdoors in natural settings than the generation that preceded them. Park deserts, a lack of transportation, stranger danger, screen time and over-scheduled families are all factors contributing to an increasingly indoor and sedentary American lifestyle. Lack of physical activity is a factor in the rising rates of type II diabetes, poor cardiovascular health, and obesity in children. The President’s initiative will begin to break down some of these barriers and ensure that kids across America have the opportunity to get outside and active, and experience our shared lands and waters.

In response to the President’s initiative, members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids issued the following statements:

“President Obama’s announcement of the Every Kid in a Park initiative  supports our work to advance opportunities for children, youth and families to experience and learn from the outdoors. At The North Face, we believe that consistent and frequent exposure to the outdoors early in a child’s life is not only great for their physical health, but is vital in developing character, confidence, a sense of adventure and respect for the environment into adulthood. Together with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the Every Kid in a Park initiative, we can help every child enjoy our parks and public lands. We’re glad the importance of this issue has been escalated by the White House in national interest.” – Todd Spaletto, President, The North Face

“Every child deserves the opportunity to get outside, regardless of where they live. We welcome the President’s commitment to connect more children with America’s public lands, and look forward to helping make his vision a reality as part of our ongoing work to ensure everyone has a chance to experience the wonder of nature.” – Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club

“We enthusiastically support the White House initiative to connect all 4th graders to our public lands. Connecting children to nature is critically important to their health and well-being, and to the future of our public lands. We commend the efforts within this initiative to provide transportation support, one of the factors limiting too many children’s opportunities to benefit from nature in their everyday lives.” – Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Executive Director, Children & Nature Network

“Connecting every fourth grader with a chance to learn about and explore America’s public lands will improve health, well-being, and academic achievement. Children at that pivotal age are combining their love of nature with the budding wisdom to become future outdoor enthusiasts and public land stewards.” – Collin O’Mara President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation

“Outdoor experiences are an essential element in Girl Scouts and provide opportunities for girls to discover, connect, and take action out-of-doors in ways that build courage, confidence, and character. According to our research, through an outdoor experience in Girl Scouts, nearly three- quarters of girls improved a skill, and half helped other girls do an outdoor activity. These experiences increase girls’ understanding and curiosity about the natural world, and shape girl leaders who are conscientious with regard to the world around them.” – Anna Maria Chàvez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA

“The National Recreation and Park Association applauds the Obama Administration for their efforts to connect every fourth grader to a park in 2015.  Our members stand ready to welcome young students in communities across the country to explore the many close-to-home public parks and recreation opportunities, and encourage all children regardless of age, race or background to discover all of our nation’s parks!” – Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO, National Recreation and Park Association

“We applaud the Administration’s commitment to the health of American citizens and the health of the American landscape through this initiative, which builds on the work already initiated through support for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.” – Harry Bruell, Chair, Public Land’s Service Coalition ​

The need to connect children to nature and outdoor recreation has never been more critical. Helping children and families become active on America’s public lands is itself an important goal. It is also the first step in raising awareness about the value of conserving our nation’s natural resources.” – Scott Kovarovics, Executive Director, Izaak Walton League of America

“Today’s launch of Every Kid in a Park is a historic step to ensuring all of our children have the opportunity to discover nature nearby, and experience all that our National Parks and public lands have to offer. As the 100th anniversary of our National Parks rapidly approaches, it’s crucial that we expand the opportunity to explore, enjoy, and protect parks for all Americans — not just a select few. In creating this fantastic program, President Obama has taken a monumental step towards achieving this goal.” – Jackie Ostfeld,  Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than seventy businesses and organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org