Tag Archives: YMCA


by Suparna Dutta, Sierra Club Outdoors intern

New York joins the growing roster of states advancing strategies to connect children and youth with the outdoors. With a unanimous vote (63-0) lawmakers from both sides of the aisle just passed legislation to address the growing divide between children and the outdoors.

State Assembly Bill A735 was just signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and directs the state commissioners of health and environmental conservation to study and develop a long term strategy to promote outdoor environmental education and recreation with a focus on outdoor play and learning opportunities, for kids in New York.

The bill was introduced in response to a growing body of research revealing that children and youth are increasingly spending time indoors. On average, the American child spends between four to seven minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play and recreation, while exposure to daily screen-time exceeds seven hours for adolescents. Bill authors point to a correlation between increasing childhood obesity rates and the decline in outdoor recreation, and acknowledge access to open space as vital for everyone, and “particularly valuable to children growing up in “urban hardscapes,” or areas where access to nature is limited.” The strategy is to be based on an analysis of the health of New York’s youth, including childhood obesity rates and economic trends related to outdoor access. It will also be developed in consultation with state health and advisory bodies. The strategy will help New York develop long-term policies that support environmental stewardship and embrace the health benefits of time in nature to improve the well-being of New York state residents.

Founding member of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the Y played a pivotal role in advancing this important policy measure. “The YMCA’s mission stands for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We supported this bill from its very inception since it is congruous to the mission of the Alliance,” said Kyle Stewart, Executive Director of the Alliance of New York State YMCAs. “The development of policies that foster stewardship of the environment, an appreciation of the importance of the wise use of natural resources, and recognition of the health benefits of time spent in nature are essential to the residents of New York state.”

The Alliance of New York State YMCAs and New York’s state legislature and found inspiration for this statewide effort in the federal Healthy Kids Outdoors Act, supported by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. If passed, the legislation would  encourage states to develop multi-year multi-sector strategies to connect children and youth to the outdoors.

The Alliance of New York State YMCAs received the 2017 OAK Leaf Award for raising awareness about the importance of open spaces for children’s health and playing a critical role in the passage of Assembly Bill 735.

RELEASE: OAK Praises Secretary Jewell’s initiative to get youth outdoors in 50 cities


March 12, 2015

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

OAK Praises Secretary Jewell’s initiative to get youth outdoors in 50 cities

Washington, DC –Today, in New York City Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced a commitment from American Express that will support a new initiative with YMCA of the USA to connect young people with the outdoors in fifty cities across America. The effort is part of the Secretary’s initiative to connect millions of children and youth with opportunities to play, learn, serve and work in the outdoors.

In response to Secretary Jewell’s announcement, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids issued the following statement:

“The Outdoors Alliance for Kids is honored to support this new effort to increase volunteerism among our youth on America’s public lands. Opportunities to engage young people in outdoor service opportunities, like those proposed today, help the next generation of leaders assume responsibility for the stewardship and preservation of America’s great outdoors.

The Y is an excellent choice for helping Secretary Jewell to realize her vision to increase engagement on public lands in and around cities across America. The YMCA of the USA is one of OAK’s founding steering committee members, and has been a steadfast champion for improving the health and wellness of children across this nation through opportunities to get outdoors. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids looks forward to working with the administration and YMCA of the USA to realize this bold vision for America’s children and youth.”


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

jewellwithkidsInterior Secretary Sally Jewell with Y kids at OAK’s Youth Event on the National Mall, Washington, DC