This National Park System is celebrating it’s 100th birthday and will be highlighting the achievements of the past, but importantly will be focused on the future. In honor of the Centennial the NPS will be launching the “Every Kid in a Park” program. The program is open to every 4th grader in U.S. and they will be able explore the over 400 National Parks for free the 2015/16 school year. This movement will inspire young Americans to connect, enjoy, and support one of the greatest treasures of this country — for free.
I was recently asked last week on social media to help with the promotion of program and created a video to spread the awareness of the campaign and encourage my outdoor industry colleagues to make a donation to #Parks4Kids.
The signature program #Parks4Kids will focus on identifying communities that are in urban communities that might not have access to the parks and design a program to connect students with the outdoors. With as little as a $10 donation, will help support in providing transportation and free admission to the parks and the development of relevant curriculum that can be applied in the park.
The goal is to leverage the donations and deliver the park experience to kids that might not have had the opportunity and connect kids to their national parks through fun and engaging activities.
The foundation is gong above and beyond to make this initiative successful and at the same time, can the parks compete with the engagement that kids are having with screen time? The national epidemic of today’s youth on average spending between 4 – 5 hours a day in front of a screen – is unsettling. This is the current reality as a society, but it takes just one decision that can help change this. You can start here, or check out a few other organizations that mission is to share the outdoors with young Americans.
Big City Mountaineers – A national program, Big City Mountaineers invites under-served youth to go on backpacking trips during the summer and provide wilderness training education. The program has over 1,000 participants each year for over 20 years.
Girl Adventures – A Bay Area program that focuses on connecting girls with the outdoors. GirlVentures creates programs that are designed to for 6th – 12th graders to participate in activities like rock climbing, backpacking, camping, and individual projects that encourage creativity and build confidence. The program started in 1997 and had 25 participants, since then they have had over 4,000 girls in the program.
YMCA – The Y is a nonprofit and has been the center of communities for over 160 years. The Y has youth programs for overnight camping and teaches campers self-reliance, confidence, and programs designated to teach outdoor education.
I am so honored to be in the outdoor industry and to use my platform to build awareness around the National Park Centennial and #Parks4Kids. I can’t wait to see more kids in our parks, which reminds me, I need to make that reservation for Crater Lake this summer!
Until next time, please consider to making a donation #Parks4Kids – believe me, it’s worth it!