Bright Ideas

Let’s Create an ECHO across America: Every Child Healthy Outdoors

Jackie Ostfeld

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. OAK’s members—including the Natural Start Alliance—are  are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors.

Yet, today children and youth face many barriers to getting outdoors and experiencing nature. Local, state and national decision-makers have a critical role to play to ensure that children, youth and families have the access, opportunities, skills and encouragement to connect with the great outdoors. We invite you to work with us to address this problem to ask your political leaders to work with you to implement proven policy solutions.


Every Child Healthy Outdoors (ECHO)

OAK has developed a toolkit called Every Child Healthy Outdoors (ECHO) to help you organize a meeting of organizational leaders in your state or city; conduct an assessment of your state or city’s existing children, youth and families and the outdoors policy; set goals for policies that your governor or mayor can adopt; and launch a campaign to get your governor or mayor working on this policy agenda. The ECHO Toolkit includes:

  • A model email invitation to invite leaders of organizations in your state or city to an assessment meeting. You will find that education, conservation, recreation, parks, business, transportation, planning, public health and other organizations are all interested in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors and can contribute to the solution, so make sure all these organizations are represented at your meeting.
  • An assessment tool that will help you to determine which policy measures your state or city already has, and which ones are missing.
  • A model letter to your governor or mayor asking for their support on this issue.
  • A model governor’s or mayor’s proclamation that includes all of the most important policy measures on this issue.
  • A model governor’s or mayor’s executive order that includes all of the most important policy measures on this issue.


Learn More

To learn more or to request the toolkit, visit OAK’s ECHO website. Also, mark your calendar for Monday, October 6th from 3:00pm – 4:30pm ET for a webinar on ECHO, where members of OAK will present the toolkit and share local success stories. The webinar will also discuss ways in which you and/or your organization can lead or get involved with ECHO in your city or state. 


About the Author: Jackie Ostfeld is the Director of Sierra Club's Nearby Nature initiative and the co-founder and chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. She has over a decade of experience working to connect kids and communities with the natural world.




ECHO, advocacy, Nature Preschools