WASHINGTON, May 8, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, launched "Open OutDoors for Kids," a new initiative dedicated to getting young people outdoors and active in America's national parks. Disney has joined the National Park Foundation as the lead sponsor of "Open OutDoors for Kids," helping 100,000 youth experience a national park, many of them for the first time. The program will address barriers and issues that prevent America's youth, particularly multicultural and underserved populations, from participating in the multitude of opportunities and benefits of getting outdoors. As part of this $1 million commitment, Disney will provide up to $250,000 as a dollar-for-dollar match for public donations made at www.OpenOutDoorsForKids.org.
"With only $10, someone can open an 'out door' and a new world of possibilities, inspiration, and adventure for a young person. Our national parks provide transformative, life-changing experiences that everyone deserves to have – especially the many kids who will never have this opportunity without our help," said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "We are excited to have the support of Disney to make this program a reality. Together, we are committed to getting 100,000 kids outdoors, active, and in our national parks in the next year alone, and growing that number exponentially in the years to come."
"Conserving nature begins with experiencing the magic of the great outdoors," said Kevin Callahan, Vice President of Community Engagement and Strategic Philanthropy at Disney. "Disney is proud to work in collaboration with the National Park Foundation to make a park experience possible for kids all across the country, helping to build memories in nature, and sparking a curiosity about conservation that will last a lifetime."
In a recent survey supported by Disney, 83% of U.S. parents recognize that time in nature can lead to improvement in the classroom.1 Kids who have opportunities for hands-on, place-based educational experiences are more engaged and enthusiastic about learning across a wide range of subjects, including environmental studies, cultural history, social studies as well as science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM).2 Yet with cutbacks in school funding for field trips and other barriers to access, kids today have fewer opportunities for experiential learning in nature and at sites of historical significance.3
Through strategic grants supporting proven in-park programs, "Open OutDoors for Kids" will:
- Provide transportation, programming, and free entry to the parks for children and teachers to experience hands-on, immersive learning.
- Connect kids and families to the parks through engaging, thoughtful cultural programs that establish emotional ties to the parks.
- Encourage active, healthy lifestyles through recreational and restoration activities.
- Create educational opportunities by using our national parks, the world's largest outdoor classrooms, to provide the ultimate learning environments and living laboratories.
1 The Nature Conservancy
2 Report from the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative
3 The Atlantic, "Study: Students Really Do Learn Stuff on Field Trips," September 2013
ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America's national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation raises private funds to help PROTECT more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, CONNECT all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and INSPIRE the next generation of park stewards.
National Park Foundation
SOURCE National Park Foundation