Tag Archives: kids

OUTDOORS ALLIANCE FOR KIDS LAUNCHES AFFILIATE PARTNERSHIP

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 30, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850, contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

Washington, D.C., — The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) announced today that it will be launching an affiliate partnership with OAK members California Outdoor Engagement Coalition and the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative.

The OAK affiliate partnership will help to connect state and local coalitions with OAK’s national initiatives and policy solutions, expanding a network of state, local and national organizations working to promote access to the outdoors for kids and families.

The new affiliate structure will enable OAK to help support solutions led by and for coalitions and impacted communities on the ground. OAK affiliates will also serve as an on-the-ground resource and model framework for fellow OAK members engaged in state and local efforts, providing relevant resources, best practices, and lessons learned.

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids’ work to increase equitable access and connect youth with the outdoors is growing,” said Brenna Muller, OAK Program Manager. “With local affiliates, our national network of organizations will be even more powerful and able to act not just on federal policy priorities, but also local and state initiatives.”

“The California Outdoor Engagement Coalition is honored to be a state affiliate of OAK. OAK is national model of leveraging partnerships to expand equitable access to the outdoors and the Coalition can learn a great deal from their approach to advocating for policies that impact millions of children and families every year,” said Jenny Mulholland-Beahrs, Director, California Outdoor Engagement Coalition.

“Members of the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative are working together to foster the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Casey Andrews, Coordinator. “We are demonstrating success at decreasing barriers and increasing access to public lands for youth of all ages. OAK’s focus on the Every Kid in a Park program, along with their work to sustainably engage youth in upper grade levels, aligns well with our work. We are grateful for the opportunity to join OAK as an affiliate and look forward to this broader collaboration!”

###

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: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

DETROIT KIDS NEED THE OUTDOORS

guest post by Mark Naida – originally appeared in The Detroit News. This story features Detroit Outdoors, a collaborative effort supported by Detroit Parks and Rec, The Kresge Foundation, and OAK members Sierra Club, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit, and REI.

Living in an urban environment, Detroiters often don’t get the same opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as other Michiganians.

Photo- Jac Kyle - Courtesy
(Photo: Jac Kyle / Courtesy)

So they miss out on learning the value of conservation and on understanding the possibilities of careers in fields which preserve and maintain natural spaces. Public land is part of our natural heritage, and should be accessible by every American, even those who live in the big city.

Welcome to Scout Hollow, Detroit’s only campground.

Red-Tailed Hawks soar overhead and Monarch butterflies float on the wind. The Rouge River meanders through 17.4 acres of pristine green space incongruously outlined by I-96 and the Southfield Freeway. Untamed woods cover 12 acres and the the other 5 are maintained for camp sites.

Established in 1939 for Boy Scouts, the last troop broke camp 10 years ago and nature overtook the site.

When Garrett Dempsey, program manager of Detroit Outdoors, first saw the campground, the only thing distinguishing it from wilderness was a set of steps covered by a fallen tree and flagpole that rose from the tall grass.

“Nature had a lease,” says Dempsey. “No one had mown in 10 years.”

Dempsey and Jac Kyle, outdoor education coordinator for the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, put their energies toward the rehabilitation of the campground.

Private donations — a $200,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation, $20,000 from the Sierra Club, and $10,000 from REI, an outdoor outfitter — paid for the renovation.

Scout Hollow offers everything a group could want for a campout, including a gear library that lends tents, cook kits, and rain protection..

“In an urban area, you can easily forget about nature,” Dempsey says. “It is important to foster a connection with it. With this place, we have been able to take down barriers to camping.”

The closest other campground to Detroit is the Highland recreation area in White Lake.

Camping can bring peace to an otherwise bustling urban environment.

“If you think of the use of technology in kids lives today,” Kyle says, “it is hard to go 24 hours without a phone. This is a space where you can interact and not just be on the phone or watching television. We hang out by a fire and cook dinner together.”

Scout Hollow offers the very experiences in nature that the Outdoor Adventure Center, a museum to nature on the Detroit Riverwalk, tries to recreate.

We felt there was a need for more presence to creatively engage the urban community with the outdoors,” says Ron Olson, chief of Parks and Recreation for the Michigan DNR, which runs the outdoor center. “We hatched the idea of an experiential center where people could come and learn about the rest of the state and the outdoors.”

But then what? Once kids are excited about nature, they need an outlet to cultivate that passion. And that’s what Scout Hollow aims to do.

Now attention is turning to Belle Isle, Detroit’s largest outdoor park.

Olson says that after hosting a few camping events on Belle isle, the DNR has begun to consider building a permanent campground on the island. But the project is well down a priority list that is first addressing neglected areas of the island.

“We still have a lot to do to bring the park back up to snuff,” Olson says.

The DNR should keep its focus on providing hands-on outdoor opportunities for Detroiters, particularly children.

It can be done without breaking the budget. Scout Hollow was rehabilitated on a tight budget and with limited resources.

And it’s allowed Detroiters to camp under the stars without leaving the city.

mnaida@detroitnews.com

Outdoors Alliance for Kids Welcomes 100th Member Organization

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 20, 2018

Contact: April Thomas, 206.321.3850, april.thomas@sierraclub.org

Outdoors Alliance for Kids Welcomes 100th Member Organization

Washington, D.C., — The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) reached its 100-member milestone with the addition of GreenLatinos, a national coalition of Latino Environmental & Conservation Leaders, who joined the alliance in August, 2018.

OAK is also proud to welcome Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Pride Outside as new members of the alliance.

“The movement to ensure that all kids have access to the health benefits of getting outdoors is growing,” said Brenna Muller, Program Manager for the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “Together we will work toward a world where playing outdoors is part of every childhood.”

“We believe Latino communities have the right to live in environmentally healthy, just, and vibrant communities, this includes ensuring our children and families have access and the ability to enjoy the outdoors, whether it be their local community park or one of our national natural treasures such as the Grand Canyon,” said Mark Magana, President & CEO of GreenLatinos. “Joining the Outdoor Alliance for Kids will help us move closer to making this a reality.”

“We believe that when children have time outdoor observing and engaging with the natural world, it enhances their executive function, creativity, attention, social-emotional and physical well-being,” said Jean Rogers, Screen Time Program Manager at Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood. “With mobile technology luring kids indoors, OAK’s work to protect and defend environments and programs for kids is essential. We look forward to collaborating on strategies to support families and children get more fresh air and immersion in the great outdoors!”

“We are committed to building LGBTQ community around the outdoors and boosting LGBTQ representation and inclusion outside,” said Hannah Malvin, founder of Pride Outside. “We support relevant, inclusive programming and policies that make LGBTQ youth feel welcome on public lands and in city parks.”

###

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: www.outdoorsallianceforkids.org

It’s Fresh Air Fitness Month!

Guest blog post by Marla Hollander, American Heart Association

What could be better than taking a Walk in Nature with your kids?

Thinking back on my childhood, my experience with nature as a kid was confined to the suburban neighborhood I grew up in including the neighborhood park, Grover’s Mill pond (yes, the infamous “War of the Worlds” 1938 Martian landing site) and the Jersey shore.  Not so shabby for nature connections. Climbing trees in the spring, skating on the pond in winter and swimming in the ocean all summer were all things I loved and just did. Fast forward a couple decades and I discovered that my hometown was also home to the D & R Canal state park, Sourland Mountain preserve and the Mountain Lakes Preserve, all providing incredible opportunities to get outdoors and move, yet I was unaware of their existence as a kid.  While we had the ability to access these incredible resources, my family didn’t know how or why to access them.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that children engage in 60 minutes of physical activity every day, yet a report brief from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine finds that only about half of kids meet that recommendation.  Additionally, a 2011 study in the Journal of Pediatrics reported that television viewing by young children has been associated with cognitive and speech delays, aggressive behavior, decreased academic performance, and obesity. The time that young children spend watching TV or using a computer or tablet has replaced the time spent on other activities like reading and active or imaginative play – and particularly outdoor play.

We need to change this script!  We need to help our kids get active.

AHA-blog-7.12.18
My kids canoeing in Lake Needwood, Maryland. Photo credit: Marla Hollander

Providing safe places to play and be physically active throughout every child’s day is critical to heart health and keeping kids healthy. Getting outdoors with one’s family is a great way to spend time together and model healthy behaviors and one of my favorite activities!

My real passion for being an active outdoors person was not tapped until my early adulthood when friends and travel introduced me to what I call the wild – places like Crater Lake in the Oregon and Cape Tribulation in Australia. Now, an avid hiker, I’ve lived in four states with my kids and with each relocation, we look for how we can get out moving and connecting with nature as a family.  In Sarasota, we loved kayaking the protected mangroves; in San Diego it was surfing and hiking Torrey Pines State Park; in Washington, DC we spend a lot of time exploring the local Rock Creek Trail system that meanders throughout the city. Many communities have natural resources within reach – but we need to look for them, expose our kids early and often, and make them safe and accessible. In doing so we can help ensure they are getting the physical activity they need, and I can’t think of a better way to get active and connected as a family.

Throughout the month of July, the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, has been challenging everyone to get outdoors and get moving. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) supports and embraces this challenge and I am grateful to be a guest blogger for OAK connecting nature, health and kids.

Fresh Air Fitness Month is part of the association’s Healthy For Good™ movement, which inspires people everywhere to make lasting changes in their health and their lives, one small step at a time.

Marla Hollander resides in Kensington MD, is a mom of two middle school kids, and a staff member of Voices of Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to ensure all kids have access to healthy food, beverages and safe places to be physically active.  She also serves on OAK’s steering committee.

Fourth Graders Float into OAK Week 2017

Parent and two kids canoeing along the Potomac River
Photo Credit: National Park Trust

All photo credits go to the National Park Trust.

Classrooms on water is a new way of learning for students across the nation. This new type of classroom allows students to learn about science, history, geography, and culture while floating along a river. This past week, Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile program traveled to the nation’s capital giving students in Washington D.C. the chance to experience a unique outdoor field trip on the Potomac River.

The National Park Service advocates for “Parks as Classrooms,” and it’s no different when talking about rivers and bodies of water. Canoemobile brings the classroom to the outdoors, engaging youth in environmental stewardship and recreational opportunities. Canoemobile is a collaboration of federal, state, and local partners.

OAK members joined Wilderness Inquiry and National Park Trust for a special Canoemobile event in Washington, D.C. with partners The North Face, National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service to celebrate the Every Kid in a Park program and kick off OAK’s annual gathering.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A highlight in the event was the distribution of Every Kid in a Park passes. This interagency program grants fourth graders nationwide free entry for them and their families to more than 2,000 federally managed lands and waters nationwide for an entire year.  The goal of the Every Kid in a Park program is to inspire fourth graders everywhere to visit our federal lands and waters. The program works to ensure “every child” in the U.S. has the opportunity to visit and enjoy their federal lands and waters by the time he or she is 11 years old. Having just been renewed for its third year this past September, the passes given to these students will be valid until August 31, 2018.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Seventy fourth graders from D.C. public schools were able to take 24-foot Voyageur canoes along the Potomac river and learn about the watershed. For many of these students, although the Potomac river is just a few miles away, they have never actually been on the river to participate recreationally. With the proper instruction, the fourth graders were able to safely enjoy the Potomac River and learn about its environmental importance.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Partnering organizations led activity stations for the students. The North Face led students through a relay race activity which taught students how to properly pack a backpack and build a tent for a camping trip. With a little competition and movement, students were able to stay engaged and learn new skills about recreating in the outdoors.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As a wrap up to the morning of events, the fourth graders were asked to fill out postcards from OAK explaining why they love their Every Kid in a Park pass. This initiative is part of a larger national campaign OAK is organizing for any fourth grader in the nation. To download and mail in postcard from home, visit the OAK website.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Even WTOP, a local FM radio station, stopped by to cover the event! Read their story.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This youth event kicked off this year’s official OAK Week. Later in the afternoon, OAK formally welcomed all member organizations with a Welcome Reception & Member Awards. In the next two days, OAK continued with its Annual Member Meeting, Networking Happy Hour, Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, and finalized the week with a Congressional Awards Reception.

37908714521_787d048d65_k

Learn more about the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and ways to joining this national strategic partnership which advocates for equitable and readily available opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors.

Every Kid in a Park Youth Blog Series: Noam (Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative)

Noam Hiking in Glacier National Park

EVERY KID IN A PARK: Youth Blog Series, Post #6
Interview with Noam, a former Every Kid in a Park pass user, and participant through the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative.

Noam D.  is about to start 5th grade at Highland Park Elementary School in Seattle. He is originally from California where he was actually born in a National Park Service site – Golden Gate National Recreation Area!

Can you introduce yourself?

Noam: I’m Noam and I’m 10 years old. I’m about to start 5th grade. I was born in California but now I live in Seattle.

How did you get your Every Kid in a Park Pass?

Noam: We were going to get it at school but I got it online first because my dad knew about the Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative. I was really happy when I learned about it.

What parks did you visit and with whom?

Noam: I went to Rainier with my dad, two friends, and their dad; Yellowstone and Glacier with my dad; Olympic with my mom, dad, sister, and grandmother; and Billy Frank Jr. National Wildlife Refuge with my mom, dad, and sister.

Which park was your favorite?

Noam: Yellowstone!

Why was it your favorite?

Noam: It had really cool sunsets, lots of mountains, and lots of wildlife that you would rarely see like bears and wolves, yellow-bellied marmots, elk and bison.

Was it your first time visiting any of these sites?

Noam: Yes, it was my first time visiting Yellowstone, Glacier, and Billy Franky Jr.

What did you do at Yellowstone?

Noam: We looked for wolves, got hailed and rained on, and went on hikes!

Was this your first time visiting Yellowstone?

Noam: Yes

Would you like to go back to Yellowstone?

Noam: Yes, I’d like to go back to Yellowstone with my mom and sister because I think they’d be really interested in all the cool animals and sites.

What’s your favorite activity to do outdoors?

Noam: I like to go on hikes, explore, and look for animals.

Why do you like to go to parks?

Noam: It’s much cleaner than cities and towns. There’s more wildlife that you can see. And you can experience a better world.

Why do you think it’s important for kids to go outside and visit parks like the ones you were able to visit?

Noam: It’s a good opportunity to discover new things that’s a lot better than cities and towns. It’s a lot cooler!

What is your favorite memory from a national park?

Noam: Seeing a pack of wolves in Yellowstone!

Are you happy you received an Every Kid in a Park pass?

Noam: Yes – very happy.

What advice would you have for future 4th graders getting their pass this year?

Noam: It’s very important to pay more attention to the animals and the scenes. You’re in a really cool park that is sometimes hard to see when there’s a lot of people there.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Noam: Thank all you guys for letting me get the pass. I got to experience things I’ve wanted to since I was 3 or 4 years old.

Sam and Noam near Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park.
Sam and Noam near Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park.

The Seattle Every Kid in a Park Collaborative brings together nonprofits and federal land management agencies serving the Puget Sound region to develop strategies to ensure all fourth grade students in the area (and their families) have opportunities to visit public lands and parks through the Every Kid in a Park initiative. Collaborative members include: The National Park Service, IslandWood, The National Forest Service, NatureBridge, YMCA Bold and Gold, The Washington Trails Association, Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Seattle Audubon Society.

For more information visit: www.ekipseattle.org.


This is the sixth post in a youth blog series highlighting students’ experiences through the Every Kid in a Park program, and those with similar first-time outdoor experiences.

EVERY KID IN A PARK: YOUTH BLOG SERIES POST #5 Nicole

IMG_9083

Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series, Post #5
Interview with Nicole, incoming 4th grader and Every Kid in a Park pass recipient

Nicole is an incoming 4th grader at Harmony Hills Elementary School in Montgomery County, Maryland. Interviewer, Isabel Argoti, introduced Nicole and her family to the Every Kid in a Park program and they are excited to participate in the program this school year. Nicole shares with us her excitement about the outdoors and her sentiments about the program.

What is your name, age, and where are you from?
Nicole: My name is Nicole. I’m 9 years old and will be attending Harmony Hills Elementary School.

What do you love about the outdoors and nature? What do you like to do outdoors?
Nicole: I like all the colorful plants that are around me and how beautiful nature is. I like to take a short walk with my dogs and playing basketball with my mom when we have free time.

Have you visited Rock Creek Park or some of the other national parks or monuments around Washington D.C.? If so, what did you like about them?
Nicole: I went to the Martin Luther King Jr. monument it was so cool because it was my first time seeing it.

What about to parks such as Shenandoah National Park? (shows photos)
Nicole: No I haven’t.

Well did you know that with your Every Kid in a Park pass you could visit these sites plus hundreds of others, with your Every Kid in a Park pass for free this upcoming school year? How does that make you feel?
Nicole: Excited and happy because I get to see and experience a place I’ve never seen or been to.

That’s great! Who do you think you will go visit these parks with?
Nicole: I will be visiting with my family –parents and sisters.

What does being in the outdoors and enjoying nature mean to you?
Nicole: Hanging out with my family and friends. It’s a break and escape from what we usually have to do.

Do you think all kids your age should receive this pass to visit national parks? Why or why not?
Nicole: Yes because everyone needs to know about nature and learn more about it. I also think they should know about the program [because] some kids are always on their phones, video games, and TV.

I totally agree, Nicole! Any last comments or anything you’d like to say about the program?
Nicole: Yes, in my opinion I think the government should support the park [and program]. It helps other kids to learn more about nature. I also think that the government should give more money to the park to keep them clean, nice, and beautiful. And also to have lights everywhere so people can go to the park until night time!


Nicole attends a Title I school where over 80% of the students participate in the Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs) program, over 40% of the students are English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners, and 90% of the students are either Hispanic or black. Nicole and her family have never visited large national parks before, but they hope to do so now with Nicole’s new Every Kid in a Park pass. Nicole is a first generation student in the United States and her family is originally from Ecuador.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Every Kid in a Park: Youth Blog Series: Post #4 Natalia (Bilingual)

IMG_8333

Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series, Post #4
Interview with Natalia A., former Every Kid in a Park pass user, in English and Spanish

Natalia A. just finished 5th grade at Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary School in Maryland. She participated in the Every Kid in a Program in its first year and was able to visit Shenandoah National Park for the first time last summer. Natalia’s family is originally from Ecuador.

Can you introduce yourself?

Natalia: Hi I’m Natalia, I’m 11 and I’m in the 5th grade. And I participated in the Every Kid in a Park program.

How did you get your Every Kid in a Park pass?

Natalia: I went online on the Every Kid in a Park website, took the activity/course and printed the pass.

What park did you visit and who did you go with?

Natalia: I visited to the Shenandoah National Park with my mom, dad, and grandma.

Can you describe the park?

Natalia: It has really pretty views of Luray, Virginia and you get see a lot of wildlife like bears and other animals. I saw a black bear!

What did you at Shenandoah National Park?

Natalia: We went on one of the hiking trails and we stopped at one of the places where you drive to the views to take pictures there.

What was your happiest memory at the park?

Natalia: Getting to go on the hike and look at the mini waterfalls. And all the nature and trees.

Was this your first time at Shenandoah National Park?

Natalia: Yeah, it was my first time!

Would you like to visit Shenandoah again or visit more parks?

Natalia: Yeah, I think it really enhances our point of view on how we see not just a local park but how it could be much more than that.

What’s your favorite activity to do outside?

Natalia: I think hike and take pictures. I like to look at things and sometimes research them afterwards to see what it is.

Why do you like to go to parks?

Natalia: We get to explore things and see things we’ve never seen before. We get to learn about not only the park but its history.

Are you happy you received your Every Kid in a Park pass?

Natalia: Yes. I think it opens up a lot of possibilities where you can explore different things that you can’t look out your window and see everyday.


Natalia will be going to a magnet middle school specializing in a Mathematics, Science, Computer Science Program. She is enjoying her summer on the local swim team and crafting projects of all sorts. She went back to visit Shenandoah National Park during National Park Week.


Natalia A. recién acabo el quinto grado en la escuela de Lucy V. Barnsley Elementary en el estado de Maryland. Natalia participó en el programa “Todos los niños en un parque” (o “Every Kid in a Park”) durante el primer año y fue con su familia a visitar al Parque Nacional de Shenandoah en Virginia. La familia de Natalia son inmigrantes de Ecuador.

Te puedes introducir porfavor?

Hola me llamo Natalia, tengo 11 años, estoy en quinto grado y participe en el programa EKIP.

Cómo recibiste tu pase del programa Every Kid in a Park?

Fui al website y complete la actividades.

A donde fuiste con tu pase y con quien?

Me fui al parque nacional de Shenandoah con mi papa, mama, y mi abuela.

Que viste en el parque?

Vi a los animales, árboles, y había cascadas de agua.

Que hiciste en el parque?

Camine en uno de los caminos del parque y paramos a ver las vistas en donde puedes llegar manejando para ver a Virginia.

Cual es tu memoria más positiva del parque?

Poder ver a los animales y la naturaleza.

Era tu primera vez visitando al parque de Shenandoah?

Si, era mi primera vez visitando Shenandoah.

Te gustaría regresar a Shenandoah o visitar más parques?

Si me gustaria visitar a otros parques o a Shenandoah. Porque podemos ver algo más de lo que vemos cada día de nuestra ventana y poder aprender de cosas que no hemos conocido antes.

Estas feliz que recibiste tu pase de Every Kid in a Park?

Si estoy feliz porque pude aprender de otras cosas y pude ir a explorar.


Natalia continuará a una escuela especializada en cursos de matemáticas, ciencia, y computación el próximo año. Está pasando su verano en el equipo de natación y completando proyectos manuales. Regreso al parque nacional de Shenandoah durante la semana de parques nacionales.

Sobre el programa de Every Kid in a Park (o “Todos Los Niños en un Parque”):

Como parte del compromiso para proteger los espacios naturales de nuestra nación y garantizar que cada estadounidense tiene la oportunidad de visitarlos y disfrutarlos, el programa Todos los niños en un parque permite a todos los escolares de cuarto grado visitar la página www.everykidinapark.gov y obtener ahí un pase de acceso gratuito para ellos y sus familias a más de 2000 sitios terrestres y acuáticos a cargo del gobierno federal en todo el país durante todo un año.

Todos los niños en un parque es un esfuerzo de agencias gubernamentales con el apoyo del Departamento de Interior (que incluye el Servicio de Parques Nacionales, la Oficina de Administración de Tierras, la Oficina de Recuperación de Tierras, y el Servicio de Pesca y Fauna Silvestre), el Cuerpo de Ingenieros del Ejército, el Servicio Forestal y la Administración Nacional Oceánica y Atmosférica.

Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series: Post #1

July 14, 2017

 

FullSizeRender

Every Kid in a Park – Youth Blog Series, Post #1
Guest blog post by Ben T., rising 4th grader, Arlington, VA

Ben T. is a rising 4th grader at Ashlawn Elementary in Arlington, Virginia. This is the first in a series of blogs highlighting students who have used, or gearing up to use, their Every Kid in a Park pass. Ben was interviewed by Isabel Argoti, Every Kid in a Park Community Assistance Fellow with OAK and the National Park Service.


 

Did you know you could get a special park pass as a 4th grader that gives you free entrance to parks for you and your family? How does that make you feel?

Ben: “Yes, I read about it in a National Geographic Kids article. It makes me feel awesome because I like to see new places and get outdoors. I also want to visit some of our famous National Parks.”  

What parks have you already visited?

Ben: “I haven’t yet visited a National Park, but I have seen Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, and I live very close to the National Mall so I’ve been there. I’ve also visited Frederick Douglass’s home in DC, which was really cool.”

What is your happiest memory in visiting these sites?

Ben: “I have two…  I was Frederick Douglass for my 3rd grade “wax museum” project and visiting his home really made it all come to life for me. The other was taking a Navajo-guided tour of Canyon de Chelly.  I learned a lot, but also got to ride in a jeep through streams and mud!”

Are there other places outdoors you’d like to visit with your Every Kid in a Park pass? Are you excited to receive an Every Kid in a Park pass next school year?

Ben: “I hope to visit Shenandoah National Park, as well as places not too far away like Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia. But, I’d REALLY like to see someplace like Yellowstone or Denali! I’m looking forward to having my own park pass, yes!”

What are your favorite activities outdoors?

Ben: “Hiking, camping, exploring… but I also love to play sports, too. I just enjoy being outside with my friends.”

Do you plan on telling your friends and family about the pass? If so, who?

Ben: “Yes… I’ve already told my Mom and Dad, and a few of my school friends know about it, too. I’ll be sure to tell my teacher about it as soon as school starts up again. But, for now, I’m enjoying my summer break.”

 

OAK is seeking testimonials from children, parents, caregivers and teachers to share the impact of the Every Kid in a Park program. If your organization is planning an Every Kid in a Park event (or has already completed one), please help share the impact of the outdoor experience by encouraging youth participants to fill out the “I love my Every Kid in a Park pass because…” postcard and send it to OAK!

 

Nevada’s new law brings more kids outdoors

Guest blog post by Suparna Dutta, Nearby Nature intern, Sierra Club

Nevada fifth-graders! Tie up your shoe laces, put on your adventure hats, and pick up your backpacks. There is exciting news in store for you! Beginning in July, a Nevada law will encourage school children aged 9-11 to visit and play in any of Nevada’s 26 state parks for free.

Nevada’s “Kids to Parks” program was prompted by new state legislation which was signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval in May. It is modeled after the federal Every Kid in Park program, which offers passes to fourth-graders and their families for free admission to more than 2,000 federal public lands, waters, and shores. Assembly Bill 385 made headlines when fifth-graders from western Las Vegas schools wrote letters to their legislators showing their support and appreciation for the bill. The new legislation ensures that every fifth-grader in the state has access to a pass that gives the child and anyone accompanying them free admission to any state park and recreational area for one year.

With the Every Kid in a Park pass for fourth-graders already in place, Nevada’s new pass means that school children in the state will have two continuous academic years of free entry to its national and state parks, a move applauded by parents, educators, and children themselves! This is the second of Sandoval’s initiatives this year that promotes increased access to the outdoors for Nevada’s children and families. In January, the Nevada governor directed $13.2 million in state general funds to the state park system in order to boost the state’s flagship Explore Your Nevada initiative.  

30075839232_9f6867fa3b_o

Photo credit: Chris Rief, National Park Trust

Nevada is not the only state thinking about ways to encourage school children to get outdoors. States such as Indiana, Maryland, New York, Wyoming, Idaho, and New Mexico have been honoring the federal Every Kid in a Park pass in their state parks. Last year, Indiana State Parks declared that they would provide free admission to fourth-graders with the federal pass. Since Indiana State Parks charge park visitors a vehicle entry fee, this allowed for free entry to parks not only for the fourth-grader but also for all those accompanying the fourth grader in the same vehicle. Similarly, in Maryland, Governor Hogan announced that the Every Kid in a Park pass would be accepted by all state parks for the 2016-2017 school year. Not to be left out, New York, too, honors the federal pass both in state parks and in historic sites. In Wyoming, the fourth grade passes are being accepted by the state parks for the second year in a row. New Mexico State Parks allow free entry for fourth-graders with the federal pass and, in the past, have aimed at connecting four million fourth graders with nature through this program.

The importance of bringing children and adults closer to nature cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that for children, connecting with nature translates into enriching social experiences with families and friends. Being outdoors helps children to be creative, curious, explorative, and create great memories that they cherish as adults. Besides contributing towards positive psychological development in children, the natural world also helps them remain fit and healthy. The American Heart Association recognizes childhood obesity as the number one health concern of American children and prescribes outdoor physical activities as prevention. Surveys reveal that Americans perceive nature to be integral for their physical, spiritual, and emotional development. And spending time outdoors during childhood significantly increases the chances that children will develop a lifelong love and appreciation for the outdoors, and continue going back year after year, with or without the pass.

Nevada’s new legislation giving children and their families more opportunities to enjoy nature and the outdoors is a welcomed initiative that should be replicated by the rest of the nation. We encourage other states to follow Nevada’s lead.

OAK is seeking testimonials from children, parents, caregivers and teachers to share the impact of the Every Kid in a Park program. If your organization is planning an Every Kid in a Park event (or has already completed one), please help share the impact of the outdoor experience by encouraging youth participants to fill out the “I love my Every Kid in a Park pass because…” postcard and send it to OAK!

Photos courtesy of Chris Rief, National Park Trust