NewsAuthor: Steven Shaw
President Obama launches a bold new program designed to get more kids outside in our nation’s best idea… the parks.
The Every Kid in a Park initiative gives all fourth grade students and their families’ free admission to all National Parks and other federal lands for one full year. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found America’s youth spend an average of nearly 8 hours a day… 7 days a week… glued to the social media accounts, video games, television and other electronic outlets. That’s more than a standard work week! The President and his Every Kid in a Park initiative aim to change that. The White House says “America’s public lands and waters off space to get outside and get active, and are living classrooms that provide opportunities to build critical skills through hands-on activities.” The White House goes to say the goal behind Every Kid in a Park is to “inspire the next generation to discover all that America’s public lands and water have to offer…” The program is launches with the 2015 – 2016 school year.
In addition to the free admission to fourth graders and their families the initiative also does a few other things to encourage school and parents to get involved. A few highlights include, making it easier for schools and families to organize trips to National Park Service by distributing information on nearby parks and educational materials. Also, the initiative will award transportation funding grants for cash strapped school districts to get the kids to the park.
The President’s 2016 Budget includes 45 million dollars slated for the Department of Interior to use for youth development programs. 20 million of that is specifically for the National Park Service to fund youth activities. In particular the funding will be used to bring more than a million 4th graders children from low-income areas to National Parks and provide for the hiring of dedicated youth coordinators to help enrich learning opportunities for those children.