Release: Congress Acts to Protect Access to Parks for Kids and Families


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Contact:   April Thomas, 206.321.3850,

Congress Acts to Protect Access to Parks for Kids and Families

Legislation encourages fourth graders to visit national parks and public lands

Washington, D.C.– Today, the Every Kid Outdoors Act passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee with unanimous, bipartisan approval. The Every Kid Outdoors Act would continue an existing program that ensures every fourth grade student in the U.S. has access and encouragement to visit national parks and public lands. The future of this program is uncertain and may end this year unless Congress acts to authorize it past 2018.

Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) Steering Committee Members issued the following statements:

“Every kid should have access to our national parks,” said Jackie Ostfeld, Director of Sierra Club Outdoors and Chair of OAK. “Today’s kids are spending less time outdoors than any generation in history. We need the Every Kid Outdoors Act to maintain our kids’ connection with nature, and to protect public health. Thank you to the House Natural Resources Committee for moving this legislation forward and making sure access and opportunities to play, learn, and work on our public lands are prioritized with so much else going on in Washington. With your continued support, we will pass the Every Kid Outdoors Act and ensure access to our national parks for the next generation.”

“Whether a family outing, a school trip or a day at camp, time spent outdoors helps kids develop a sense of belonging in nature and an appreciation of the importance of preserving our lands and water. Our national parks and public lands are unrivaled as spaces where kids can connect with nature and grow their love of the outdoors. The Every Kid Outdoors Act will enable youth-serving organizations like the Y to create powerful community partnerships focused on ensuring all kids, regardless of their circumstances, can experience the wonder of these national treasures,” said Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA.

“Connecting young people to our National Parks and other public lands is a great way to ensure that kids are active, healthy, and happy,” said Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy, The Wilderness Society and Vice Chair of OAK. “We need to do everything we can to connect kids to the great outdoors. The Every Kid Outdoors Act is a key component of OAK’s comprehensive strategy for getting kids outside. The Wilderness Society applauds the House Natural Resources Committee for moving this bill forward.”

“Through our national Buddy Bison School Program, we have seen first hand the many benefits of the 4th grade federal park pass that would be continued through the Every Kid Outdoors Act. The pass has been an effective way to engage students and families across the country with our public lands and waters, many for the very first time,” stated, Grace Lee, Executive Director, National Park Trust.

“Parks play a critical role in teaching our nation’s youth about conservation and the importance of the outdoors,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, National Recreation and Park Association president and CEO. “Thank you to Congress for taking the first step to ensure every kid has access to our nation’s parks and the benefits they provide.”

“Alliance for Childhood is enthusiastic about the opportunities the Every Kid Outdoors Act will provide for fourth graders and their families. Together with our partners at Outdoors Alliance for Kids, we look forward to working with federal agencies to ensure all children’s healthy development, especially through outdoor, child-initiated play in our natural world,” said Linda Rhoads, Executive Director, Alliance for Childhood.



The existing Every Kid in a Park program is a low-cost and popular public-private partnership that helps boost local economies while improving our children’s health and connections to nature. In the program’s first year, more than two million fourth graders downloaded the Every Kid pass. Over the first two years, nearly $5 million in private funding has been leveraged to support transportation costs for children from low-income schools across the United States.

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 nearly 100 businesses and organizations, representing more than 60 million individuals to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information:

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