In a move to protect unique outdoor spaces and ensure every American has the opportunity to visit and enjoy them, Obama has launched the ‘Every Kid in a Park’ initiative.
According to the White House, the scheme ‘is a call to action to get all children to visit and enjoy America’s unparalleled outdoors’ in the run-up to the National Park Service’s 100th birthday next year.
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Over 80% of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces. At the same time, kids are spending more time than ever indoors and in front of screens.
A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that, on average, young people now devote over seven hours per day – or about 53 hours a week – to electronic media use. That’s more than a full-time job.
Through ‘Every Kid in a Park’, each and every fourth-grade student (9-10 years old) across America will be given the opportunity to explore public lands and waters during the 2015-2016 school year. A million fourth-grade children from low-income areas will be brought to national parks under the scheme.
‘America’s public lands and waters offer space to get outside and get active, and are living classrooms that provide opportunities to build critical skills through hands-on activities.
‘To inspire the next generation to discover all that America’s public lands and waters have to offer, the Obama Administration will provide all fourth-grade students and their families free admission to all National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year, starting with the 2015-2016 school year.’
The White House
The Obama Administration will provide information and resources to make it easier for teachers and families to identify nearby public lands and waters, and to find programmes that support youth outings.
‘Did you know that you own millions of acres of national parks, historic structures, cultural artifacts, ancient forests, snow-capped mountains, and clear blue lakes? Our public lands and waters belong to all Americans and are waiting for you to explore them!’
Every Kid in a Park initiative
Transport will be provided to support schools with the most need; the National Park Foundation (NPF) will award transportation grants for kids to visit parks, public lands and waters.
The initiative will offer a wide range of educational materials and tools, including science labs, lesson plans and field trip guides. A number of federal agencies participate in Hands on the Land, a national network of field classrooms and agency resources that connects students, teachers, families and volunteers with public lands and waterways.
Obama’s 2016 Budget includes a total increased investment of $45 million for youth engagement programmes throughout the Department of the Interior, with $20 million going to the National Park Service to support youth activities.
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