The US is home to numerous national parks with breathtaking landforms, lively bodies of water, historical landmarks, and lush forests. Guess what? Every American owns all of these natural wonders. Unfortunately, instead of basking in the beauty that Mother Nature has to offer, most kids, and adults as well, spend a big chunk of their time nowadays with their noses glued to the television, laptops, and other gadgets. Even if they do go out, they usually go to the malls because a large percentage of American families reside in the city. They couldn’t visit these amazing outdoor places due to logistical reasons. Because of this, they are missing out on the rich knowledge and experience that one can only learn when in contact with nature.
To encourage more kids to go out and explore America’s great outdoors, the current administration of President Obama initiated the “Every Kid in a Park” program. Through the program, every fourth grade student across the country, along with 3 of his or her family members, is entitled to an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that will give them free admission to the different US national parks, waters, and federal lands for a whole year starting this September. Its main goal is to provide the opportunities for the young people to discover and enjoy America’s natural lands.
Connecting People and Environment
Even with the free passes to the national parks, a lot of people would still find it difficult to visit them due to distance or lack of transportation. The government partnered up with different local, state, and federal agencies, as well as non-government organizations, to bridge this gap between children, their families, and the country’s natural environment. Every Kid in a Park has the following initiatives:
Make planning the trip as easy as pie. The Every Kid in a Park program makes planning trips to these national parks easier for schools and families by providing them different trip-planning tools. These would give them access to information and resources like identifying the nearest parks or finding a specific park that would cater to their interests. In the website, different places where visitors can stay are listed. There is also a link that would give them information about the nearest parks and the suggested times to visit if they are planning a field trip for the school.
Providing transportation grants, the administration works with the National Park Foundation to provide transportation and cover the transportation costs for schools with the most financial need. This gives kids from low-income areas an equal chance and opportunity to visit national parks.
Make educational materials easily available to everyone. Different federal agencies take part in Hands on the Land, which is a national network of various educational resources that link students, faculties, and volunteers with public lands and waters. Such tools help enrich the kids’ outdoor experience.
Why 4th graders?
You may wonder why Every Kid in a Park targeted 4th graders. Studies show that children in this grade, whose ages range from 9 to 11, are at a developmental stage where they see how the world works in more concrete ways. Since this is the age where they are receptive or open to new concepts and ideas, exposing them to nature and allowing them to interact with nature would develop positive attitudes towards it and instill a deeper sense of appreciation of our natural environment. Furthermore, at this grade, schools start teaching local and national history, so taking them out to experience history firsthand will enable them to understand their lessons more.
Through Every Kid in a Park, the US government encourages learning beyond the four walls of the classroom, as well as developing genuine care and value towards the environment among America’s young people. For more information about the program, visit https://www.everykidinapark.gov.
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