Fourth-grade students and their families will get free admission to national parks, forests and wildlife refuges for a year, thanks to a new White House initiative set for this fall ahead of the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.
“Every Kid in a Park” is President Obama’s call to action to encourage children to get outdoors and visit America’s more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. According to a White House fact sheet, 80% of American families live around cities, and children spend more than 53 hours a week using electronics.
All families interested in participating in the initiative will receive a free annual pass, which typically costs $80.
The White House also released information on Thursday about three sites throughout the country that Obama will designate as new national monuments: Pullman town in Illinois, which played a role in the civil rights movement; Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp during World War II; and Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, a huge area scenic area in the Arkansas River Valley.
The NPS will also relaunch and expand its program to provide transportation grants for kids in schools that have the most need. Obama’s 2016 budget includes an investment of $45 million for youth engagement programs, with $20 million specifically designated for youth activities in the NPS.
In 1872, former President Ulysses Grant designated the Yellowstone National Park as the country’s fist national park. The system now comprises 405 areas covering more than 84 million acres in every state, according to the NPS website.
The initiative will start this fall, at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year.
The president’s plan seems to mirror his wife’s years-long campaign to get kids outdoors. In February 2012, first lady Michelle Obama launched her Let’s Move campaign to help combat childhood obesity and ensure all families have access to healthy, affordable food in their communities.