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My name is Jackie Ostfeld. I am the co-founder and Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the Policy Manager for Sierra Club's Outdoors program. I am an advocate for connecting kids with nature. My views are my own.

Great Outdoors America Week in Pictures

Guest blog by Jackie Ostfeld. Originally appeared on Sierra Club’s Outdoors blog.

The story of Great Outdoors America Week 2013 is best told through photographs. Sierra Club Outdoors hosted 15 volunteers for a week filled with lobby visits, briefings, receptions and events. We participated in 20 meetings with elected officials where we advocated for increasing opportunities for kids and youth to get outdoors. We hosted a congressional briefing panel on the military community and the outdoors. We were joined by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for the “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival and Walk on the National Mall” put together by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. We recovered from a long week with a Sierra Club Outing to Great Falls National Park. And those are just the highlights. Here’s our first round of photos from GO Week.

Miltarycolalge
Photo Credit: Jennifer Edwards, Sierra Club

Sierra Club Outdoors hosted a congressional briefing panel, “Military Community and the Outdoors,” with Major General James A. Kessler, Marine Corps Installation Command; Stacy Bare, Army Veteran and Sierra Club Outdoors Director; Marine Corps Colonel Broughton; Sheri Robey-Lapan, Blue Star Families; Mike Christian, Marine Corps Veteran and Director of Outdoor Research Government Program; and Joshua Brandon, Army Veteran and Military Organizer for Sierra Club Outdoors.

Oakpartners

Photo Credit: Kyle Ash

During GO Week, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (of which Sierra Club is a co-founder) hosted the “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival and Walk on the National Mall” to draw attention to the importance of increasing access and opportunities for kids and youth to get outdoors. This event would not have been possible without the ongoing commitment of 50+ members of OAK. Special thanks to Michael Carroll and Paul Sanford and of The Wilderness Society, Susan Yoder of the American Camp Association and Sarah Danno and Katie Joyce rockstar Sierra Club Outdoors summer interns for all of the hours you put in to making this event (and GO Week) a success.

Additional thank yous to REI, GirlTrek, American Canoe Association, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, National Wildlife Federation, National Recreation and Park Association, Outdoor Nation, American Hiking Society, YMCA of the USA, Earth Conservation Corps, AmericaWalks, International Mountain Bicycling Association, American Camp Association, Clif Bar, Outward Bound, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sc kayak station
Photo Credit: Javier Sierra, Sierra Club

Sierra Club’s Baltimore and Harrisburg Inner City Outings groups hosted a kayak demo station at the “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival” on the National Mall. Thanks Molly Gallant, Nicole Veltre, Pat and Tony Reilly for lending your expertise (and your boats).

Collage

Photo Credit: Jennifer Edwards, Sierra Club

Festival go-ers explain why they get outdoors. Best Interns Daniel and Izzy (top left) were on site shooting video – stay tuned.

Jewellwithkids

Photo Credit: Javier Sierra, Sierra Club

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell arrives at the Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival and heads straight for the kids. Here she is meeting a group of youth from the YMCA.

Jewellwithoutdoornation
Photo Credit: Javier Sierra, Sierra Club

Secretary Jewell joins our friends at Outdoor Nation. ON Youth Ambassadors represent!

Jewellatpodium

Photo Credit: Javier Sierra, Sierra Club

Secretary Jewell joins the Outdoors Alliance for Kids for a press conference on the importance of connecting kids, youth and families with the natural world. Thanks Sierra Club Angel Martinez for holding up our sign!

Speakersgoweek

Photo Credit: Javier Sierra, Sierra Club

From left to right, Chair Nancy Sutley, White House Council on Environmental Quality; Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director; Secretary Sally Jewell, US Department of the Interior; Arturo Cervantes, Outdoor Nation Youth Ambassador; Jackie Ostfeld, Chair, Outdoors Alliance for Kids and Policy Manager, Sierra Club Outdoors; and Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society. Thanks to all of our press conference speakers for their ongoing commitment to connecting kids and youth with our natural heritage.

GOAW group shot2

Photo Credit: Javier Sierra, Sierra Club

We have arrived at the Capitol. Sierra Club joins Interior Secretary Jewell and the Outdoors Alliance for Kids for a walk on the National Mall following the “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival.” Big thanks to Vanessa Garisson and Morgan Dixon of GirlTrek for leading the walk. It was a hot day and the enthusiam of our GirlTrek friends kept us going.

Senator Nelson, Mark Walters

Photo Credit: Eugenie Bostrom, Southwest Conservation Corps

During the GO Week Congressional Awards Celebration, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida receives an award for his work to protect America’s great outdoors and to connect veterans with our public lands. Sierra Club Outdoors uber-volunteer Mark Walters (in the middle) is there to present the award.

GOAW great falls

Photo Credit: Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club

Sierra Club Outdoors GO Week Delegates unwind with an outing to Great Falls National Park after a long week advocating for connecting America with the outdoors. Thanks to Sierra Club Potomac Regional Outings Leader Mike Darzi for leading the hike. From left to right, meet our delegation (or most of it): Eric Uram, Denis Rydjeski, Jackie Ostfeld, Lydia Leos, Maggie Davenport, Monica Augustine, Sarah Danno, Kelly Mieszkalski, Tony Reilly, Katie Joyce, Pat Reilly, Mike Darzi, Mark Walters and Betsy Edlredge.

RELEASE: Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Helps Connect Kids with the Great Outdoors at Fun-Filled Event on the National Mall

For Immediate Release                                                                                               

Contacts:

Rebecca Silver, 201-981-1221, rebecca.silver@sierraclub.org

Aislinn Maestas, 202-797-6624, maestas@nwf.org

 

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Helps Connect Kids with the Great Outdoors at

Fun-Filled Event on the National Mall

WASHINGTON, DC (June 26, 2013) – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell spent Wednesday afternoon walking, talking and having fun with 100 local youth at the “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival” on the National Mall. Part of Great Outdoors America Week, Secretary Jewell was joined by White House Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, The Wilderness Society President Jaime Williams, and members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.

“When children get outside, they build a healthy lifestyle at a young age and create connections with nature that last a lifetime,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.  “We have a responsibility to connect kids to nature so that they grow up to be our next generation of business leaders, scientists, and conservationists.”

“The Corps of Engineers is an enthusiastic partner in President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative and is eager to strengthen partnerships and increase both awareness and participation in outdoor activities while taking care of the outdoors,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy.  “We are committed to getting kids and teens involved in conservation and restoration.”

Kids participated in several fun-filled nature-based recreation activities at the festival, including mountain bike riding, a kayaking demo, camping 101, and live birds of prey. Secretary Jewell also held a press conference to discuss the importance of connecting children, youth and families to the outdoors.  The event ended with an urban walk from the National Mall to Capitol Hill.

“As the father of three young children, I know just how important it is for them to get outdoors and connect with nature,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “I also know that nature is not in everyone’s backyard, which is why Sierra Club is dedicated to making the outdoors more accessible to kids and families everywhere.”

“Seeing kids and teenagers having fun in the great outdoors is my favorite part of my job,” said Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society. “America’s kids are the future stewards of our wild lands, and GO America Week is all about reconnecting our communities to the great outdoors.”

Great Outdoors America Week (GO America Week) is the preeminent event celebrating the nation’s collective connection to the great outdoors while advocating for its future. As one of the largest annual conservation and outdoor focused events in Washington DC, GO America Week raises awareness around outdoors issues, brings together hundreds of diverse organizations and activists to meet with lawmakers and administrators to advocate for America’s outdoor way-of-life.

“Many of us – youth and adults alike – don’t spend a whole lot of time outdoors these days,” says Jackie Ostfeld, Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “One in five of us can’t even safely walk to a park from our home. OAK is working to ensure youth and families have access, opportunities, skills and encouragement to connect with the great outdoors.”

“The best way to protect the places we care about in the long term is to pass on our passion for conservation to the next generation,” said Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “This means getting America’s kids outside on a regular basis to experience all that nature has to offer.”

Photos from today’s event are available upon request.

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Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being 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 fifty national organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, the Outdoor Foundation, REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children and the natural world. Find out more on our website:  www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

MEDIA ADVISORY: Secretary Jewell to Celebrate Great Outdoors America Week with Kids and Conservation Leaders

06/24/2013

Contact us

Original Advisory Published on US Department of the Interior Website
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will join kids and conservation leaders and organizations this week to celebrate Great Outdoors America Week (GO Week).

On Tuesday, June 25, Jewell will participate in a conversation about conservation and youth with Richard Louv, award-winning author of eight books about the importance of connecting children with nature, at the Center for American Progress.

On Wednesday, June 26, Jewell will join Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, Assistant Secretary of Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy, over 100 local youth and conservation organizations at the Outdoors Alliance for Kids’ “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival” on the National Mall. Jewell will provide brief remarks, participate in nature-based recreation and learning activities, and will walk with the youth from the Washington Monument to the Capitol.

The events are open to credentialed media representatives.

EVENT #1: CONVERSATION ON CONVERSATION AND YOUTH

WHO:
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell
Author Richard Louv
CAP President Neera Tanden
CAP Chair John Podesta

WHAT:
Conversation about Conservation and Youth

WHEN:
Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at 3:30 PM EDT

WHERE:
Center for American Progress
1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC

MEDIA:
Credentialed members of the media should RSVP here.

EVENT #2: KIDS, YOUTH AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS FESTIVAL

WHO:
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell
Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley
Assistant Secretary of Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy
Outdoor Nation Youth Ambassador Arturo Cervantes
Outdoors Alliance for Kids Chair Jackie Ostfeld
The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune
100+ Local Youth

WHAT:
Outdoors Alliance for Kids’ “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival” and Walk to the Capitol

WHEN:
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM – Festival with outdoor recreation and learning activities
2:30 PM – 3:00 PM – Remarks
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Walk to the Capitol

WHERE:
NE Quadrant of the National Mall, near the Washington Monument
15th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

MEDIA:
Credentialed members of the media should RSVP to Emily Beyer (emily_beyer@ios.doi.gov) by 10:00 AM on Wednesday, June 26.

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MEDIA ALERT: INTERIOR SECRETARY SALLY JEWELL JOINS OUTDOORS ALLIANCE FOR KIDS AT KIDS, YOUTH AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS FESTIVAL AND PRESS CONFERENCE

MEDIA ALERT

INTERIOR SECRETARY SALLY JEWELL JOINS OUTDOORS ALLIANCE FOR KIDS AT KIDS, YOUTH AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS FESTIVAL AND PRESS CONFERENCE

**Attention Photo/TV Desks – Great Visuals**
Monday, June 24, 2013
Contact:
Rebecca Silver, Sierra Club, Rebecca.Silver@SierraClub.org
Jessica Kershaw, Department of Interior, 202-208-6416

 

WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will join White House Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, The Wilderness Society President Jaime Williams, members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and 100 local youth at the “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival” for a fun-filled afternoon of nature-based recreation and learning opportunities. Activity stations include mountain bikes, kayaks, camping 101 and live birds of prey.

Following the press conference, there will be an urban walk from the national Mall to Capitol Hill.

What:     Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival, Press Conference and Urban Walk on the National Mall

When:    Wednesday, June 26, 2013
1:00–2:30 PM, Outdoors Festival
2:30–3:00 PM, Press Conference
3:00–4:00 PM, Walk to the National Mall

Where:   NE Quadrant of the National Mall, near the Washington Monument
15th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW

Who:       Secretary Sally Jewell, US Department of the Interior
Chair Nancy Sutley, White House Council on Environmental Quality
Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
Jackie Ostfeld, Chair, Outdoors Alliance for Kids
Arturo Cervantes, Outdoor Nation Youth Ambassador
Jamie Williams, President, The Wilderness Society
Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club
Members and friends of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids

Why:      It’s Great Outdoors America Week! The Outdoors Alliance for Kids and our partners are coming together to ensure kids, youth and families across the nation have opportunities to get outdoors. The “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival” will engage local youth in a variety of nature-based recreation and learning opportunities.

Hosted by: The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being 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 fifty national organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, the Outdoor Foundation, REI, Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children and the natural world. Find out more on our website: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org.

For more information, visit www.goamericaweek.org.

Getting Outdoors During GO Week

Great Outdoors America Week (GO Week) starts today. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is proud to participate in GO Week 2013 where we will join our partners to ensure kids, youth and families across the nation have opportunities to get outdoors.

GO Week is the preeminent event celebrating our collective connection to the great outdoors while advocating for its future. As one of the largest annual conservation and outdoor focused events in Washington DC, GO Week raises awareness around outdoors issues, and brings together hundreds of diverse organizations and activists to meet with lawmakers and administrators to advocate for our outdoor way-of-life. During GO Week, OAK will  advocate for policies that enhance opportunities for children, youth and families to enjoy the outdoors.

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We’ll also be hosting a “Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival and Walk on the National Mall” with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, White House Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, The Wilderness Society President Jaime Williams, Outdoors Alliance for Kids Chair Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club Outings Leader and Outdoor Nation Youth Ambassador Arturo Cervantes, and dozens of OAK members and partners.

KIDS FLYER

Follow OAK on Twitter for updates all week long.

Learn more about GO Week: http://goamericaweek.org/

Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors

by Dr. Jill Biden

Originally published on the White House Joining Forces Blog

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As we mark the second anniversary of Joining Forces and celebrate the Month of the Military Child, April gives us the opportunity to celebrate our nation’s youngest heroes—the children whose parents serve in our Armed Forces.

Military children face many unique challenges – on average, they attend six to nine different school systems by the time they graduate from high school. Through each transition, they have to leave their friends, try out for new sports teams, and adjust to a new school.

As a teacher, I have been so pleased to see the progress we are making to raise awareness and understanding about how to help military children in the classroom. Through Joining Forces, more than 100 colleges of teacher education have signed on to Operation Educate the Educatorsan effort to help better prepare future teachers to help military children in the classroom.

But as a military mother and grandmother, it is important to me that we are supporting our military children outside the classroom as well.

That’s why I’m delighted to see that, for the third consecutive year, the Sierra ClubBlue Star Families, theNational Military Family Association, the Children & Nature Network, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and other partners will join forces for the Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors.

Getting children outdoors is a wonderful way to help them reduce stress and anxiety and improve physical fitness. It can also help bring families back together following a deployment.

Most of all, Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors is about creating opportunities for military children to explore and enjoy the beautiful land that they and their families have sacrificed to protect.

This year’s celebration kicked off with a family-friendly event on Saturday, April 6th just outside Washington, D.C., in Virginia’s Prince William Forest Park. There was hiking, fishing, tent races, and plenty of opportunities for hundreds of military kids to have fun outdoors, enjoy the natural world with their families and simply know that they are loved. There will be additional events and hikes happening across the country all spring long. Visit sierraclub.org/GETOUT for the full listing.

The Month of the Military Child is a time to remind ourselves that it is not just the service members who serve. It is also their families. We cannot make all the challenges of being a military child disappear, but we can make sure they know we’re standing beside them. And a great step forward is a program like this one, helping military kids and their families have fun and reconnect in the fresh air of nature.

RELEASE: OAK Welcomes the Nomination of Gina McCarthy as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Monday, March 4, 2013

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

 

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids Welcomes the Nomination of Gina McCarthy as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

Washington, DC – Today, President Obama nominated Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Gina McCarthy, to be the next EPA Administrator.

Statement of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK)

Gina McCarthy has been a leader in the effort to connect children with the outdoors. During her tenure as Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection, McCarthy established the “No Child Left Inside” campaign to encourage families throughout the state to visit their parks and forests.  The campaign was created to raise awareness about the 137 state parks and forests across Connecticut and to attract more kids and families to get healthy outdoors. As part of the campaign, McCarthy launched “The Great Park Pursuit” which took families on an eight week journey to visit eight different state parks.

“President Obama has chosen a leader  who understands the importance of connecting children and families with the natural world,” says Jackie Ostfeld, chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) and Policy Manager of Sierra Club’s Outdoors program. “Today’s children and youth spend most of their free time indoors. Gina McCarthy knows that bridging the divide between kids and nature improves the wellbeing of our children and the long-term health of our environment.”

“With childhood obesity on the rise and our global competitiveness in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) slipping, it is more important than ever to have a leader that believes in the importance of connecting kids with nature,” says Danielle Moodie-Mills, Director of Education Advocacy at the National Wildlife Federation. “The appointment of Gina McCarthy will begin to narrow the environmental education and health gap that negatively impact our nation’s children.”

“Gina McCarthy is a superb choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Among her many outstanding attributes, she understands the importance of people of all ages–and especially children and their families–forming deep bonds with the natural world in order to be likely to help assure its quality for generations to come,” said Dr. Cheryl Charles, President and CEO, Children & Nature Network.

In her role as EPA Administrator, McCarthy will be responsible for keeping our air and water clean and educating our children and the public about the environment. OAK looks forward to working with McCarthy to strengthen and grow the environmental learning opportunities administered by EPA. OAK also hopes to improve community health and wellness initiatives and environmental stewardship opportunities for children, youth and families across America.

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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 expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being 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 fifty national organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, the Outdoor Foundation, REI, Sierra Club, and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children and the natural world. Find out more on our website: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: OAK Praises Nomination of Sally Jewell as Secretary of the Interior

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club, 202-548-6584

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids Praises Nomination of Sally Jewell as Secretary of the Interior

 Washington, DC – Today, President Obama nominated REI CEO Sally Jewell as the next US Secretary of the Interior.

Statement of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK)

“Sally Jewell has been a steadfast champion for connecting children with nature. Under Jewell’s leadership, REI was an early supporter and co-founder of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). The commitment of Jewell and her company to improving access and opportunities for children and communities to explore and enjoy the natural world is extraordinary. Jewell and REI have provided critical support to many of OAK’s member organizations including Sierra Club’s Inner City Outings programs, the Children & Nature Network’s Nature Clubs for Families and Natural Leaders Network, Outdoor Nation and the YMCA’s Boys and Girls Outdoor Leadership Programs.

President Obama has chosen a leader with a firm commitment to connecting children with our great outdoors. OAK looks forward to working closely with Jewell to ensure that children, youth and families have every opportunity to learn in the natural world, improve their physical and mental health through outdoor play and recreation, and increase their civic engagement with environmental stewardship.

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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 expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being 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 fifty national organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Association of State Park Directors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, the Outdoor Foundation, REI, Sierra Club, and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children and the natural world. Find out more on our website: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

RELEASE: CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING: STRENGTHENING AMERICA

CONTACT:
Stacy Bare, Sierra Club, 720-519-5837, stacy.bare@sierraclub.org
Kristina Ortez de Jones, Sierra Club, 505-206-9629 kristina.ortez@sierraclub.org

CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING: STRENGTHENING AMERICA

Connecting Military Kids, Families and Veterans with the Great Outdoors

June 27, 2012 – Washington DC – To commemorate Great Outdoors America Week, experts gathered to discuss opportunities for the Administration, the military and non-profit partners to provide support for military families and veterans to connect with the outdoors and build resiliency.

Being outdoors in nature can provide untold benefits, particularly for the Nation’s service members and their families. Those service members and veterans who may suffer from mental, emotional and physical disabilities, such as post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury, have found the outdoors to be a great place for people to move on from their wounds, and find meaning in life again.

“American service members fought for our country, said Stacy Bare, Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Military Families and Veterans Representative. “ We are excited to have a diverse group of partners who understand that American service members who defended their country can experience the healing power of nature. “

The outdoors allows families, children and veterans to “unplug” and connect with others who have shared
experiences. Military families and veterans have found that time in the outdoors helps them reconnect with
families and friends and regain positive aspects of their military experience.

“Getting outside is a holistic, healthy option for our military families, said Sheri Lapan, Senior Director for Blue Star Families. “Our mission is to support, connect and empower and it’s outside that all these come together. We are thrilled to be able to provide as many opportunities as possible for our families to enjoy and strengthen while building the uniquely strong bonds that only the outdoor experience can provide.”

Children of deployed military families are twice as likely as those from nonmilitary families to report elevated anxiety and experience significantly higher rates of behavior problems than their peers.

“At the Y, strengthening community is our cause, and we’re proud to partner with Sierra Club and OAK to provide supportive environments where military youth and families can learn, grow and thrive,” said Katie Adamson, Director of Health Partnerships and Policy. “Together with the Armed Services YMCA, and with support from partners like Sierra Club, we have been able to provide more than 25,000 military children and parents with a camping experience over the past 5 years. This effort has enabled more military kids to spend time outdoors with their families, engaging in healthy activities and strengthening their awareness of recreational, environmental and conservation issues.”

Children spend an average of 7.5 hours a day connected to electronic media, and less time getting outside.
“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is proud to support efforts to give military kids more opportunities to connect with nature,” said Jacqueline Ostfeld, the Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Policy and Operations Manager. “Military children serve too, and time spent in nature is time spent building resiliency and having fun.”

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About Sierra Club
Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, we are 1.4 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet. Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors program is working to reconnect America with the outdoors. Read more at http://www.sierraclub.org/missionoutdoors

About Blue Star Families
Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, with a mission to support, connect and empower military families. In addition to morale and empowerment programs, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable. Membership includes military spouses, children and parents as well as service members, veterans and civilians. Read more at http://bluestarfam.org

About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK)
OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. OAK believes that the well-being 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 forty national organizations across the nation. Find out more on our website: http://www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org.

About the Y
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. Read more at http://ymca.net

About Great Outdoors America Week
Great Outdoors America Week offers opportunity for advocates to take direct action on a number of conservation issues, ranging from wilderness and national monument protection to reconnecting inner-city kids to the great outdoors. Great Outdoors America Week serves as another example of the long-standing, bipartisan tradition of conservation in the United States.

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RELEASE: American Heart Association joins steering committee of Outdoors Alliance for Kids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

April 5, 2012

Contact: Jacqueline Ostfeld; 202-548-6584; Jackie.Ostfeld@sierraclub.org; Retha Sherrod; (202) 785-7929; retha.sherrod@heart.org

American Heart Association joins steering committee of Outdoors Alliance for Kids

Washington, DC–  OAK (Outdoors Alliance for Kids) today announced that the American Heart Association has joined the growing partnership advocate for connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. With the addition of one of the strongest voices for children’s health to OAK’s steering committee, the alliance will advance one of its key goals to strengthen the connections between health and wellbeing and time spent outdoors.

“Inactivity, a key factor in the rising rates of diabetes and childhood obesity, is putting our kids at greater risk for heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems in early adulthood,” said Robert DiBianco, M.D., American Heart Association spokesperson and cardiologist. “That’s why we support the efforts of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids to increase opportunities for families to be physically active in outdoor settings and to improve their overall health and well being.”

Today’s children and youth are growing up indoors. Advances in technology, changing family structures, increased urbanization, fear of strangers and poorly planned development all contribute to what author Richard Louv calls Nature-Deficit Disorder in his best-seller, “Last Child in the Woods.” Recent reports have found that kids and teens are spending more than seven hours every day “plugged in” to electronic media. At the same time, the rates of overweight and obesity have reached alarming levels in the real world.

Emerging research demonstrates that time spent outdoors in nature provides myriad benefits for the health and wellbeing of children and youth. From increases in physical fitness to reductions in stress and the symptoms of attention deficit disorders to improved vision, time outdoors in nature is one important way to improve the health of children and youth.

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s number one and number four killers. It teams with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The association also recognizes the importance of making physical activity a life-long habit for children and time spent outdoors in nature can help children reach their physical activity goals while having fun.

Statement of OAK (Outdoors Alliance for Kids)

“The American Heart Association brings a strong advocate for the health of our children into the alliance. Over the last few decades, the amount of time children spent outdoors in nature has diminished. In these hard economic times, the natural world provides an inexpensive and often close to home way for kids to get physically active through play and recreation. Together we will work to advance opportunities for children and youth to improve their own health through time spent in the outdoors.”

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About OAK (Outdoors Alliance for Kids): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors, advocating to expand opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the well-being 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 forty national organizations, including Sierra Club, the YMCA of the USA, REI, National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America, Outdoor Foundation, Children & Nature Network, National Recreation and Park Association, National Association of State Park Directors, Active Network, The North Face and the American Heart Association to address the growing divide between children and the natural world. Find out more on our website: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org