The Every Kid in a Park program has launched, and is providing free passes for all federal lands and waters to fourth graders and their families.
Back in February, we told you about President Obama's Every Kid in a Park initiative, which is meant to provide more opportunities for US kids and their families to be active and experience the great outdoors, along with educational activities and field trip options, in connection with the National Park Service's 100th birthday celebrations.
Although the announcement was good news, the actual program itself hadn't launched yet. But now, the dedicated website is up and running, and is ready to supply free passes for fourth graders and their families (and their educators).
"America is blessed with the great outdoors, and through Every Kid in a Park, we’re inviting every fourth grader and their families to enjoy our nation’s unrivaled public lands and waters. We want to make sure that every American has the opportunity to develop a lifelong connection to our nation’s land, water and wildlife." - U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell
The Every Kid in a Park program allows fourth graders (or the homeschool equivalent) to get a free pass for a year's worth of entry to more than 2000 federally managed sites, including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and marine sanctuaries. The free Every Kid in a Park pass also allows for entry for up to three accompanying adults (for per-person fee areas) or the entire car (for per-vehicle fee areas), ensuring that the whole family gets to take advantage of this program and can spend time visiting some of America's most beautiful places.
"Every Kid in a Park invites children of all backgrounds to discover their public lands and all they offer, including opportunities to be active and spend time with friends and family. As living classrooms, these outdoor places and historic sites also provide hands-on, real-world opportunities to develop critical skills and learn about the natural world."
Educators can get free passes for their fourth grade classes, along with a downloadable activity guide about federal lands and waters, and parents can use the free trip planning tool on the website to help them find and prepare for a trip to one of the US' public lands sites.
"Every Kid in a Park is a chance for fourth graders from every background to be outside and get to know the lands and waters that belong to them, whether it’s a national forest, a wildlife refuge, a marine sanctuary or a historic site in the center of a city. By expanding their horizons and learning all the ways the outdoors can enrich their lives, this innovative program hopes to create greater awareness of the many benefits of our nation’s public lands and waters." - Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director at White House Council on Environmental Quality
In addition to the free pass program, the National Park Foundation (the official charitable partner of the National Park Service) is also awarding Every Kid in a Park transportation grants for youth from underserved communities, which are meant to help remove barriers to visiting national parks and public lands and waters.
"In an era of limited school budgets and increasingly sedentary lifestyles, it’s become more important than ever to connect today’s youth with all that the National Park System has to offer. Understanding the financial challenge of getting kids into parks, the National Park Foundation, together with Disney’s Friends for Change and the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, created a program focused on addressing the transportation need for students across the country." - National Park Foundation
The Every Kid in a Park initiative is planned to be repeated every year for fourth graders, and will eventually give every school-aged child in the US the opportunity to visit some of America's great natural treasures for free, in the hope of "inspiring the next generation to be stewards of our nation’s shared natural and cultural heritage." The free passes are good from September 1, 2015, through August 31, 2016.
Learn more about Every Kid in a Park.