In what is fast becoming a national day of play, families across America are planning to visit to local, state or national parks this coming Saturday to commemorate Kids to Parks Day. Across America, kids will be taking their first hike, playing in creeks, studying frogs, participating in clean ups, exploring American history, and having picnics.
More than 1,000 events in 47 states are listed on the Kids to Parks website. The National Park Trust launched kidstoparks.org where park events are listed by state and the website features helpful downloadable tips and guides to help children, families and teachers plan park adventures. The Trust has also launched a weekly contest on facebook.com/nationalparktrust, offering engaging and fun activities leading up to Kids to Parks Day. Those who pledge at the site will also have a chance to win a grand prize.
'Four years ago, NPT launched this grassroots movement to encourage families to engage with and celebrate our parks across the United States. Families, schools and park officials have embraced this fun event ' a national day of outdoor play ' and it is fast becoming America's unofficial kick off to summer,' said Grace Lee, the Trust's executive director.
To date, 381 mayors representing 50 states and Washington D.C. and 17 governors (Md., Colo., Va., Pa., W.Va., Mo., Nev., Del., Ark., Miss., Ariz., Il, Ind., Iowa, N. Mex., N.C., Tenn) have issued proclamations.
'Kids to Parks Day is the perfect way to jumpstart the summer and get families playing outdoors in parks. The American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging families across the country to take the pledge and discover a park on May 17,' said Dr. Robert Zarr, national spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
National Park Trust's Kids to Parks Day is officially in support of the First Lady's Let's Move initiative, and the Trust's collaborators include: the American Academy of Pediatrics, America's State Parks, Department of the Interior, National Park Service, NFL Players Association, National Recreation and Park Association, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, Boy Scouts of America, US Play Coalition, National Education Association, National Geographic Kids, American Hiking Society, Children & Nature Network, National Environmental Education Foundation, and National Park Hospitality Association.
'Kids to Parks Day is a terrific way to discover your state parks. We are delighted to partner with National Park Trust on this important movement that will get hundreds of thousands of kids and their families to parks on May 17 and throughout the summer,' said Lewis Ledford, the executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors.
Kids to Parks Day also is the signature event of the Trust's popular environmental education school program Where's Buddy Bison Been?Â®. Through its woolly mascot Buddy Bison, the Trust encourages children to 'Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!' Fifty schools in 17 states and Washington, D.C., have participated in the Buddy Bison school program, which includes classroom resources, lesson ideas and fully funded park trips.
In 2012, the National Park Trust launched the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. This year, the Trust awarded scholarships to 43 schools in 29 states benefiting 3,200 children, grades pre-K through 12. The scholarships will help students put their ideas into action and visit, learn and play in their local, state and national parks and celebrate the day. Families can pledge to participate at kidstoparks.org. When they visit a park on May 17th, kids and parents are encouraged to tweet #kidstoparks or send in photos to [email protected].