AORE Partner News Summer 2016 - Page 6

Photos and article by Jackie Ostfeld, Sierra Club’s Nearby Nature Director and the co-founder and chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.

I am a new, well new-ish, mom. My son recently completed his very first spin around the sun. One of the many gifts I’ve received in becoming Dylan’s mom has been the chance to experience nature through the eyes of a child. Sure, he may have slept through his first park experience in the Everglades, but as he approaches toddlerhood, he’s nothing but wide-eyed and curious about the natural world.

Each time my son picks up a new leaf, splashes his hands in a puddle, or laughs uncontrollably during a game of forest peek-a-boo, I smile with gratitude for the individuals and organizations I work with everyday who are making sure kids and families can enjoy the natural world. Whether a neighborhood park, a national park, or anything in between, kids everywhere need and deserve nature. It’s up to us to make sure that children, regardless of where they live, have opportunities to regularly and safely spend time outdoors.

That’s why I am proud of the work I do with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK). OAK is a national strategic partnership of businesses and nonprofit organizations with a common interest in getting kids and families outside. OAK brings together more than eighty organizations, including a strong steering committee with representation from the Alliance for Childhood, American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Latino Outdoors, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, NatureBridge, The North Face, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA, to advocate for equitable and readily available opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the natural world outdoors.

We know there are many reasons today’s kids are not experiencing nature. Whether it’s safety, access, a lack of interest or time, transportation, funding or [insert your own reason here], OAK members are working hard to knock down the barriers. One way we’re doing this is by partnering with the White House to help get Every Kid in a Park. President Obama’s initiative is providing every 4th grader in America with a free access pass to our federal public lands, waters and shores, and transportation funding for Title 1 schools.

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Let's Get

Every Kid

in a Park!