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President Obama recently launched the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative — an effort to get every fourth grader into a park by making it easier to access public lands through new resources, grants, educational materials and free admission to National Parks for a full year for fourth grade students and their families.
So what does this mean for us — community parks and recreation?
The beauty of what we do is that we are already there. We are already in every community, accessible and open to those we serve. We are already connecting millions of kids to nature and the outdoors every year. You don’t need a pass to visit a community park. You just need to show up.
This initiative provides us an opportunity to show the nation that all of our country’s parks are ready to welcome children of all ages, races and backgrounds with opportunities to explore, grow and connect with nature.
But we have to be proactive and take the lead. I challenge you to be the first to discuss the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative with your community and offer yourselves as the solution. Connect with your local schools now to start planning field trips and events — not just for their fourth graders, but for every student.
We know that getting kids into parks and recreation at a young age shapes their lives. And as part of our 50th Anniversary celebration, we will soon be undertaking the “I’m a Park and Rec Kid” campaign which will celebrate the people who have grown up through their local parks and recreation. Stay tuned as we’ll be announcing more information about this campaign soon.
Barbara Tulipane, CAE
NRPA President and CEO