No Child Left Out of a Park

Fourth graders and their families get free admission to all federal parks

By Mitch Kline on Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:58

Fourth-grade students across the country will soon receive a pass good for free admission to more than 400 national parks. It's part of President Obama's new initiative called Every Kid in a Park, which was announced Feb. 19. The passes, which will be given out in September, give all fourth-grade students and their families the opportunity to visit all of America's federal lands and waters free of change for an entire year.

“Thanks to our public-private partnerships, we are able to open up a world of experiential learning in our nation’s largest classrooms – our national parks. Every Kid in a Park will enhance this important work and give many youth and their families the opportunity to explore our national parks for the first time. This aligns perfectly with our mission as we focus on engaging the next generation of park stewards, as well as those who already know and love the parks,” says Dan Wenk, president of the National Park Foundation. “We applaud President Obama on his commitment to this initiative, and we’re thrilled to work with all of our partners, including the National Park Service, local Friends Groups, various youth organizations, philanthropists and foundations to connect kids to America’s magnificent national parks, inspiring their natural curiosity and love of these special places."

Low-Income Families Given More Opportunities to Enjoy National Parks

The initiative is aimed at getting America's youth more engaged with the great outdoors. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that the average child spends more than seven hours a day sitting in front of a TV, computer or on an electronic device. That's about 53 hours a week. The President's plan to get more children into national parks includes the use of grants to provide low-income students with free or reduced transportation to national parks. The President's 2016 Budget includes $45 million for youth engagement programs throughout the Department of the Interior, with $20 million specifically provided to the National Park Service for youth activities. This includes a program to bring approximately 1 million fourth-grade children from low-income areas to national parks. 

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Mitchell Kline, previous city editor for Livability.com, curates and produces content for the website, including stories, photos and videos. He also wrote the Livability.com Top 10...

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