Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Invite Your Members of Congress to Kids to Parks Day

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Invite Your Members of Congress to Kids to Parks Day

Article excerpt

On April 16, the United States Senate passed a bipartisan resolution, with unanimous consent, that designates May 19, 2018, as "National Kids to Parks Day." This bipartisan resolution was co-sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (OR), Rob Portman (OH), Lamar Alexander (TN), Martin Heinrich (NM), Mazie K. Hirono (HI) and Cory Booker (NJ). In addition, more than 354 mayors and town councils, representing all 50 states, have signed proclamations in support of Kids to Parks Day (see full list at www.parktrust.org/kids-to-parks-day/mayoral-proclamations). Kids to Parks Day is an annual initiative organized by the National Park Trust (NPT) to connect kids of all ages to parks. Naturally, NRPA is all-in on this great idea!

With children increasingly spending more time indoors and in front of screens, this day is an essential part of the movement to connect youth to nature. NRPA is proud to partner with the National Park Trust on Kids to Parks Day for the second year in a row, with the aim of connecting not only youth to parks, but also members of Congress.

This partnership is based on NRPA's Park Champion initiative, which empowers NRPA members and community advocates to invite their members of Congress to ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings, program kickoffs and special events, like Kids to Parks Day. Together with NPT, NRPA developed tools and resources, including a special step-by-step guide, for inviting local, state and federal elected officials to a Kids to Parks Day event. This is a perfect opportunity to show elected officials, especially members of Congress, firsthand how important it is to invest in parks and recreation --and to have an amazing time at one of thousands of Kids to Parks Day events!

Public funding for parks is essential to creating and maintaining quality open spaces at all levels of government. However, often there's a strong disconnect between federal funding and the parks that are made possible by it. Federal funding not only directly funds park projects, but also leverages local, state and private funding to build and maintain our nation's open spaces. Without federal funding for parks, families across America would be without access to parks. That's why it's so important to include members of Congress on elected-official invitation lists for events like Kids to Parks Day. By including them, agencies can create a powerful, memorable experience that demonstrates exactly how important federal funding is to connecting kids to nature.

In the current political climate where every cause seems to be vying for attention and funding, it's important to remember how essential it is to give kids the chance to participate in free play in nature. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, each day, kids ages 8-18 spend an average of 7. …

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