Not that you should need an excuse to take your family to the park, the National Park Trust, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and protecting our nation’s parks and connecting kids to nature, is holding its second annual National Kids to Parks Day on Saturday, May 19. Here’s more on the event and how you can sign up to be counted in the national tally of families who love our local, state, and national parks.
Get to the park
Children nationwide will take part in a growing grassroots movement to celebrate America’s parks through play on Saturday, May 19, as they participate in National Park Trust’s Second Annual National Kids to Parks Day. Currently, there are over 60,000 people in 45 states who have signed up to play in and appreciate our nation’s parks. There are 219 cities and towns have passed resolutions and the governors of Colorado, Washington and West Virginia have signed proclamations declaring May 19 National Kids to Parks Day
State of Washington Governor Christine O. Gregoire, who is Chair of the Western Governors’ Association, believes encouraging families to get outdoors and visit America’s parks will introduce a new generation to our country’s outdoor treasures. “By launching National Kids to Parks Day, National Park Trust is inviting families to engage the outdoors, similar to what we have done by encouraging families to Get Out West!, and enjoy the natural beauty and adventure in our parks,” she explains.
Parks keep our kids active
It’s all too easy — and common — for our nation’s youth to laze on the couch or desk chair while gaming, Facebooking, and Twittering their day away. Sedentary kids are at risk for weight problems and chronic illnesses related to weight gain — health issues that follow them into adulthood. In addition, kids who never gain an appreciation for the great outdoors will not have a concern for preserving our nation’s outdoor recreation areas nor the many parks that give our families the opportunity to enjoy nature.
“National Kids to Parks Day encourages children across America to get out and play. This simple idea of playing in a park can potentially give millions of kids the reason to get active and get outside just as families prepare for summer,” says Grace Lee, executive director of National Park Trust. “In one year, participation has tripled with children, families, educators, and politicians jumping in to support parks and come together in joyful and active outdoor fun. We hope that by playing in parks the next generation will be empowered to protect and preserve our parks.”
National Kids to Parks Day is the signature event of the National Park Trust’s popular educational program Where’s Buddy Bison Been? Buddy Bison encourages children to “Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!” Thirty schools in 12 states and Washington D.C. participate in the Buddy Bison educational program, which includes outdoor lesson ideas, activities and games. In 2012 the National Park Trust launched the National Kids to Parks Day School Contest, awarding scholarships to 32 classrooms, 959 children in 13 states, and to put their ideas into action to visit, learn and play in their local, regional and national parks and celebrate the day.
Support for National Kids to Parks Day
One of National Park Trust’s newest partners, National Geographic Kids has recently published the Kids’ National Parks Guide U.S.A. “National Parks are America’s playgrounds so we’re excited to celebrate National Kids to Parks Day with information on the www.kids.nationalgeographic.com website and our National Geographic Parks app,” says Jennifer Emmett, editorial director, National Geographic Kids books.
National Kids to Parks Day has been endorsed by Department of the Interior’s Youth in the Great Outdoors, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Education Association, Western Governors’ Association, Children’s National Medical Center, Boy Scouts of America, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, America’s State Parks, National Recreation and Park Association, Children & Nature Network, and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition in support of the First Lady’s Let Move Outside! initiative.
Get your family involved in National Kids to Parks Day
Visit www.kidstoparks.org, which is an interactive kid-friendly site with links to park activities nationwide and provides a toolkit of ideas and activities for children, families and educators. When you visit a park on May 19, your kids can tweet or send in photos to firstname.lastname@example.org to have their pictures posted online on a national map commemorating the day.