“I do believe that when we get kids, families, out in open spaces, it changes them. It roots you. It gives you a sense that there’s something bigger and grander than you.”
- President Obama
As part of President Obama’s historic commitment to protecting our natural treasures and ensuring all Americans have the opportunity to experience our great outdoors, the Every Kid in a Park initiative gives fourth graders and their families free access to all of America’s public lands and waters for a full year. Now in the program’s second year, Every Kid in a Park is connecting hundreds of thousands of youth across the country to the great outdoors.
Building on this work, today, we are thrilled to announce an interagency commitment to continue the program for the next five years and a new virtual reality video featuring the First Lady and Modern Family's Nolan Gould.
As we celebrate Every Kid in a Park and look towards the future, read these two letters to President Obama showing how important it is for every child to explore, play and learn in the outdoors.
4th grade teacher, DeLene Hoffner, wrote about her students’ excitement after receiving their free passes:
Dear President Obama,
As part of our National Parks celebration, my 4th grade class wanted to write you to thank you for our FREE pass to the parks. Each 4th grade class (3) traveled to Florissant National Monument (CO) and every one of our 78 students got their free pass!!
We had a wonderful day of sensational learning at Florissant and the learning continues. Since then, many of our students have used their pass to take their whole family to a National Park!! From Hawaii to North Carolina, these young naturalists are earning their Jr. Ranger Badges and seeing the WONDER of our beautiful country!!
DeLene Hoffner (1999 CO)
4th grade & Presidential awardee
By giving every fourth grader and their family free access to over 2,000 federally managed lands and waters, we’re working to decrease barriers and to get all students, like those in Ms. Hoffner’s class, to get outside and get active.
One student, Alexander from Arizona, sent a letter to the President thanking him for a great year in 4th grade where he got to visit Yosemite National Park with his family.
Dear Mr. President,
Hello! I wanted to say thank you for the National Parks pass you gave to the 4th graders this past year. I just finished 4th grade at Hannock Elementary. My family and I had a great time at Yosemite last month. I heard that you and your nice family did also – that’s cool. I hope you had a very happy birthday, and thanks again – you’re the most wonderful President!
From Chandler, AZ
Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, making access to green spaces far too limited for many children. Additionally, kids are spending more time in front of screens, devoting an average of more than seven hours a day to electronic media use. The outdoors are a natural stress-reliever, a place for families to reconnect and to feel more in tune to the world.
Last week, Congress took a big step with the passage of the National Park Service Centennial Act, which authorized more funding for national parks, so we can continue to get our kids outside. Today’s action will continue to build on this progress and ensure that all Americans have the same opportunity to enjoy our national parks, forests and other public lands. Our great outdoors should be an inclusive space for our children to play, learn and explore for many generations to come
To learn more, and to get a free pass for your fourth grader, visit www.everykidinapark.org.