US Government Spends $500,000 To Get "More Kids in the Woods"
Photo: National Get Outdoors Day
The US Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has a program they call "More Kids in the Woods." We first mentioned it back in 2007. This year they'll contribute $500,000 USD to 21 initiatives, which aim to provide hands-on recreation and conservation education for "underserved and urban youth."
Why? Because "government, with its influence over parks, open spaces, education and health care, has a crucial role to play in helping our nation realize the physical, emotional and cognitive benefits of the great outdoors. The rise in childhood diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease is a growing national crisis. [...] Outdoor experiences in early childhood can help get our children on the pathway to a healthy and active lifestyle."21 Projects, 15,000 Kids
The 21 projects that will benefit for the Forest Service's largess were selected from 250 proposals. They are spread across "summer camps, outdoor labs, nature caching, wilderness expeditions and more will help kids make the connection between healthy forests, healthy communities and their own healthy lifestyles."
This is the fourth year the Forest Service has matched funds and in-kind contributions from partners for "More Kids in the Woods". The partners, including local, state, and federal agencies and American Indian tribes are said to serve more than 15,000 kids throughout the USA.
A full list of the recipient programs can be found here on the US Forest Service site.
As Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said when announcing the funding late last month, "If we are going to put an end to childhood obesity, we must promote healthy, active lifestyles and encourage our kids to get off the couch and go outside." he went on to observe. "Our "More Kids in the Woods" challenge not only promotes physical activity, it fosters environmental awareness and stewardship among young people as we face critical environmental challenges, such as the effects of climate change. "More Kids in the Woods" helps kids make the connection between healthy forests, healthy communities and their own healthy lifestyles."
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