Bright Ideas

President Obama Commits to Getting "Every Kid in a Park"

Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Last week, President Obama announced a major new effort to connect children with parks and public lands. The “Every Kid in a Park” initiative will open the doors for fourth graders and their families to visit America’s outdoor treasures and historic sites where they’ll have opportunities to play, laugh, learn and get active in nature.

For many children, spending time outdoors isn’t always easy or safe. Today’s youth spend 50 percent less time outdoors in natural settings than the generation that preceded them. Park deserts, a lack of transportation, stranger danger, screen time, and overscheduled families are all factors contributing to an increasingly indoor and sedentary American lifestyle. Lack of physical activity is a factor in the rising rates of childhood type II diabetes, poor cardiovascular health, and obesity. The President’s initiative will begin to break down some of these barriers and ensure that kids across America have the opportunity to visit one of our national treasures.

The Outdoors Alliance for Kids--of which NAAEE's Natural Start Alliance is a member--praises the President for his commitment to children. In response to the President’s initiative, members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids issued the following statements:


“Every child deserves the opportunity to get outside, regardless of where they live. We welcome the President's commitment to connect more children with America's public lands and look forward to helping make his vision a reality as part of our ongoing work to make sure everyone has a chance to experience the wonder of nature.” - Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club


“President Obama’s announcement of the Every Kid in a Park initiative supports our work to advance opportunities for children, youth and families to experience and learn from the outdoors.  At The North Face, we believe that consistent and frequent exposure to the outdoors early in a child’s life is not only great for their physical health, but is vital in developing character, confidence, a sense of adventure and respect for the environment into adulthood. Together with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the Every Kid in a Park initiative, we can help every child enjoy ourparks and public lands. We’re glad the importance of this issue has been escalated by President Obama in national interest.” - Todd Spaletto, President, The North Face


“We enthusiastically support the White House initiative to connect all 4th graders to our public lands. Connecting children to nature is critically important to their health and well-being, and to the future of our public lands. We commend the efforts within this initiative to provide transportation support, one of the factors limiting too many children's opportunities to benefit from nature in their everyday lives.” - Sarah Milligan-Toffler, Executive Director, Children & Nature Network


“Connecting every fourth grader with a chance to learn about and explore America’s public lands will improve health, well-being, and academic achievement. Children at that pivotal age are combining their love of nature with the budding wisdom to become future outdoor enthusiasts and public land stewards.” - Collin O’Mara President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation    


“The need to connect children to nature and outdoor recreation has never been more critical. Helping children and families become active on America’s public lands is itself an important goal. It is also the first step in raising awareness about the value of conserving our nation’s natural resources.” - Scott Kovarovics, Executive Director, Izaak Walton League of America


“The National Recreation and Park Association applauds the Obama Administration for their efforts to connect every fourth grader to a park in 2015.  Our members stand ready to welcome young students in communities across the country to explore the many close-to-home public parksand recreation opportunities, and encourage all children regardless of age, race or background to discover all of our nations parks!” - Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO, National Recreation and Park Association


"We applaud the Administration's commitment to the health of American citizens and the health of the American landscape through this initiative, which builds on the work already initiated through support for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps." - Harry Bruell, Chair, Public Land's Service Coalition ​


“Outdoor experiences are an essential element in Girl Scouts and provide opportunities for girls to discover, connect, and take action out-of-doors in ways that build courage, confidence, and character. According to our research, through an outdoor experience in Girl Scouts, nearly three- quarters of girls improved a skill, and half helped other girls do an outdoor activity. These experiences increase girls’ understanding and curiosity about the natural world, and shape girl leaders who are conscientious with regard to the world around them.” - Anna Maria Chàvez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA



policy, advocacy