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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
America's State Parks, National Education Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, Among Others, Endorse Initiative Program Complements America's Great Outdoors and Let's Move Outside
Washington, D.C., March 31, 2011 -- Children nationwide will take part in a grassroots movement to celebrate America's parks through play on Saturday, May 21, as they participate in the National Park Trust's (NPT) first annual National Kids to Parks Day. The national kick-off event for Kids to Parks is planned for the National Mall on Friday, May 20, 2011.
Recognizing that young people spend far too much time indoors and far too little time appreciating America's magnificent national, state and local parks – the National Park Trust is mobilizing kids across the country for a nationwide park play-in. Already, over 1600 kids have committed to visit a park on Saturday, May 21 by signing up online at NPT's Buddy Bison web site (www.BuddyBison.org). Buddy Bison, the wooly mascot and driving force behind NPT's popular educational program, Where's Buddy Bison Been?® encourages children to "explore outdoors, the parks are yours." Thirty schools across the country participate in the Buddy Bison program, which includes outdoor lesson plans, activities and games. In honor of May 21st National Kids to Parks Day, the Buddy Bison web site now includes an area where kids can commit to visit a park and provides a slew of resources for outdoor, healthy living.
"Within hours of our www.BuddyBison.org website going live with Kids to Parks Day, children and families across America were registering online," said Grace Lee, Executive Director of the National Park Trust. "We hope National Kids to Parks Day will encourage 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."
National Kids to Parks Day has been endorsed by America's State Parks, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), National Education Association (NEA), Children's National Medical Center, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, US Army Corps of Engineers, Children & Nature Network, and the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition in support of the First Lady's Let's Move Outside initiative to get more youth and families to be active and live healthier by achieving the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA).
Families can sign up to be counted in the national tally at www.BuddyBison.org. When they visit a park on May 21, kids can tweet or send in photos to Buddy@BuddyBison.org to have their pictures posted online on a national map commemorating the day. Also available online: park activities and ideas for family fun.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed National Park Trust's National Kids to Parks Day as a way to spotlight the importance of outdoor activity. "Pediatricians often treat children with conditions that could have been prevented, at least in part, through healthy diet and exercise. Safe, healthy outdoor play spaces are vital to ensuring that physical activity and exercise are a regular part of every child's life. In our increasingly digital world, spending time playing outdoors is something that parents need to consciously encourage, to spur active lifestyles in their kids–and help fend off certain obesity-related childhood diseases, like high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes," said AAP President O. Marion Burton, MD, FAAP.
NPT is additionally working with cities and towns affiliated with the First Lady's Let's Move Cities and Towns program, designed to encourage mayors and elected officials to adopt policies and programs that create systemic changes, reducing childhood obesity. More than 80 mayors across the country have signed official proclamations declaring May 21st National Kids to Parks Day in their city or town and have committed to urge their citizens to make time on this date to take the children and grandchildren in their lives to a neighborhood, state or national park.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST
National Park Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of our nation's critical parklands and reconnecting our youth – especially those who are underserved – to nature. NPT's mission is to provide important recreational and educational parkland opportunities for current and future generations. As people spend more time indoors and as successive generations grow up with less of a connection to nature, NPT wants to build greater awareness and appreciation for the importance of our country's public lands and parks. To achieve this, NPT seeks to champion the acquisition and preservation of critical national, state and local parklands and to build a greater awareness through education – focusing on our youth. ###
Since 1983, NPT has supported and assisted in acquiring inholdings and in developing public and private partnerships to promote the acquisition and preservation of parks, wildlife refuges, historic landmarks, public lands, and water ways. We have completed more than 100 park projects benefiting 49 national park units and other public lands in 33 states. To learn more about about our work and how you can get involved, contact Dick Ring, NPT Park Projects Director.
Buddy Bison School Program: Because Kids Need Parks and Parks Need Kids
The Buddy Bison school program was created in 2009 to engage diverse children from Title I schools with their local, state and national parks to teach environmental education and the numerous benefits of outdoor recreation. If parks are to survive, the face of those parks must change and under-served communities must have access to these local cultural and environmental resources. More than 80% of the students in the Buddy Bison school program qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch, predominantly in inner city communities. This program has been used in 60 schools across the country in grades pre-K through 8th in public, public charter and private schools across the country (20 states and Washington D.C.).
This experiential learning program enhances existing school curricula throughout the year with emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as well as history, language arts, reading, geography, the arts, and outdoor recreation. Students also learn about the careers of professionals who support our parks-- and the importance of stewarding our public lands. And in addition to bringing kids to parks, we bring parks to kids by arranging schools visits from our many conservation partners.
To learn more about how you can get involved, contact Billy Schrack, NPT Education Director.