As part of a commitment to protect unique outdoor spaces and ensure that every American has the opportunity to visit and enjoy them, the Obama Administration has launched the Every Kid in a Park program.
Fourth-graders can visit the Every Kid in a Park website to obtain a pass that provides them and their families free access to all federally managed lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries.
The pass is valid for the 2015-16 school year and grants free entry for fourth-graders and three accompanying adults (or a carload of people at drive-in parks) at more than 2,000 federally-managed sites.
“Every Kid in a Park is a chance for fourth-graders from every background to be outside and get to know the lands and waters that belong to them, whether it’s a national forest, a wildlife refuge, a marine sanctuary or a historic site in the center of a city,” said Christy Goldfuss, managing director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “By expanding their horizons and learning all the ways the outdoors can enrich their lives, this innovative program hopes to create greater awareness of the many benefits of our nation’s public lands and waters.”
Goldfuss and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell hosted the nation’s first Every Kid in a Park event with fourth-graders at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas. Goldfuss and Jewell hiked with the students and distributed free parks passes.
Leading up to the 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016, President Obama announced the Every Kid in a Park initiative as a call to action to get all children to experience America’s unparalleled outdoors, rich history and culture. Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces. At the same time, youth spend more hours than ever in front of screens instead of outside.
Every Kid in a Park is aimed at inspiring kids generation to discover all that our nation’s public lands and waters have to offer, including opportunities to be active, spend time with friends and family, and serve as living classrooms to build critical skills.
“America’s majestic national parks, monuments and wilderness areas are the birthright of every child,” said Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, in praising the Obama administration’s move. “This new initiative will ensure more young people can experience the stunning sunsets of the Grand Canyon, cool alpine meadows of Yosemite, or lazy summer waves at Sleeping Bear Dunes. We owe it to our children to hand down these places and inspire a new generation to play and explore the natural and cultural wonders that belong to all of them.”
Fourth-graders who log onto the website at www.everykidinapark.gov can complete an educational activity to obtain and print a parks pass (exchangeable for a more durable pass at participating federal sites nationwide).
Educators and community leaders can access educational activities, field trip options, and the ability to print passes for students. Parents can find links to help them plan trips to nearby public lands.
In addition, the National Park Foundation – the congressionally chartered foundation of the National Park Service – will award Every Kid in a Park transportation grants, focusing on removing barriers for youth from underserved communities to get to their parks, public lands and waters. For more information, visit www.nationalparks.org.
Every Kid in a Park is designed to continue; after 12 years, every school-age child in America will have had an opportunity to visit their public lands and waters for free, inspiring the next generation to be stewards of our nation’s shared natural and cultural heritage.
To further support getting youth outdoors, the President’s 2016 Budget includes a total increased investment of $45 million for youth engagement programs throughout the Department of the Interior, with $20 million specifically provided to the National Park Service for youth activities, including bringing 1 million fourth-graders from low-income areas to national parks. This increase will also fund dedicated youth coordinators to help enrich children and family learning experiences at parks and online.
Every Kid in a Park is a partnership of the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Education, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The program is part of an effort to engage young people with the outdoors. This includes the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, an effort to put thousands of young people and veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing America’s public lands and waters. In addition, first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative is committed to getting millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in America’s great outdoors.
For more information, please visit www.everykidinapark.gov, and follow the program on Twitter @everykidinapark, on Facebook, on Instagram (EveryKidinaPark) and Youtube.
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