As the National Park Service Turns 97, Public Health and Youth Organizations Call for Full and Permanent Funding for Parks

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the National Park Service turns 97, Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and other public health and youth organizations encourage First Lady Michelle Obama and nation's leaders to support full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). LWCF helps create close-to-home parks and recreation facilities -- opportunities for physical activity that are critical to the fight to eliminate childhood obesity.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100204/TFAHLOGO )

"Safe and maintained places to be active and exercise are essential to solving the nation's childhood obesity crisis -- if kids can't go out into their neighborhoods and play, we'll never be able to increase physical activity," said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, executive director of TFAH. "TFAH encourages the federal government and other leaders to fully and permanently fund the LWCF."

While hundreds of millions of dollars in oil and gas royalties are paid into the 50-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund annually for the intended purposes of protecting national and local parks and public lands, Congress redirects most of the money. According to the National Park Service, the unmet need for outdoor recreation facilities and parkland acquisition at the state level is $27 billion.

"Research continues to underscore that being physically active can help prevent and cure chronic diseases," said William W. Dexter, M.D., president of the American College of Sports Medicine. "LWCF helps bring those benefits to communities across the country."

Last week, TFAH and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future (www.fasinfat.org/), which found that, despite some gains in the childhood obesity battle, among children and teens (2-to 19-year-olds), more than 5.1 percent of males and 4.7 percent of females are now severely obese. To improve the health of children, the report recommended that kids have access to more opportunities to be physically active on a regular basis.

In June, TFAH, the American College of Sports Medicine, the U.S. Soccer Foundation and other health and youth groups signed a letter to the First Lady and Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell asking that they publicly support full funding for LWCF as a key component in the fight against childhood obesity.

"LWCF is a great resource for communities to use in the fight against childhood obesity because it can be used to create safe places for kids to be active and improve their well-being," said Krista Washington, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, U.S. Soccer Foundation.

LWCF uses fees paid by oil companies drilling off-shore to protect parks and public lands and create outdoor recreation opportunities across the country. A portion of LWCF fees is allocated to the states where matching grants are made available to communities to build parks, playgrounds, bike paths, soccer fields, swimming pools, etc. For more information about the letter, visit: http://groundworkusa.org/2013/06/19/gwusa-urges-doi-and-lets-move-to-prioritize-lwcf-dollars-for-new-parks/. www.lwcfcoalition.org

Trust for America's Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. For more information, visit www.healthyamericans.org. For information on F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future, visit http://www.fasinfat.org/.

SOURCE Trust for America's Health



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