Outdoors Alliance for Kids, 300+ Youth Launch Great Outdoors America Week on Anacostia River

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Asst. Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Darcy, Saint Paul Mayor Coleman Connect Kids with Nature
Virginia Cramer, 804-225-9113 x 102, virginia.cramer@sierraclub.org
Beth Dooley, 612-325-0203, beth@wildernessinquiry.org

Outdoors Alliance for Kids, 300+ Youth Launch Great Outdoors America Week on Anacostia River

Asst. Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Darcy, Saint Paul Mayor Coleman Connect Kids with Nature

Washington,  D.C.--  National leaders, mountaineers, and outdoor and health advocacy groups joined hundreds of kids on the Anacostia River today to kick off Great Outdoors America Week. This festive week, dedicated to discovering, celebrating and protecting the great outdoors, will focus on “The Next Generation of America’s Outdoors.” Today’s event, complete with canoeing, rock climbing and education stations, is part of a larger effort to connect kids, youth and families with America’s wild places, urban waters and nature nearby.

"Great Outdoors America Week highlights the importance of establishing meaningful connections between young people and nature," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. "The Interior Department is working to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors in order to help our nation’s public lands and to develop the next generation of outdoor stewards."

“As we celebrate Great Outdoors America Week, we remember the work done over the past century to protect millions of acres of federal land, and over the past 50 years to protect priceless American wilderness. We’re reminded of the importance of preserving the health of our planet and connecting children and families to the natural world. EPA looks forward to continuing our work to improve air quality and protect our nation’s waterways, so all Americans have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors,” said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.

"Americans are fortunate to have diverse opportunities to recreate on our federal lands and waters,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). “The Corps of Engineers manages 12 million acres of this and hosts 370 million recreation visits a year. The America’s Great Outdoors initiative focuses on reconnecting Americans to their natural environments. It is beneficial for so many reasons; health, community, ecosystem restoration and most importantly the happiness and well-being of our children."

“Outdoor experiences are important opportunities for youth to develop social and emotional skills, build relationships and develop an appreciation and respect for nature,” said National League of Cities President Chris Coleman, Mayor of Saint Paul, Minn. “The Great Outdoors America Week is an engaging way to inspire urban youth to make outside activities a part of living a healthy lifestyle.”

“Walking and bicycling are great ways to get to work, get in shape, or just have fun,” said Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy Peter Rogoff. “With summer in full swing and more children and families enjoying the great outdoors, the Department of Transportation is reminding everyone to put safety first, whether it's drivers sharing the road or cyclists wearing a helmet.”

“It's fitting that during this 50th anniversary year of the Wilderness Act we're celebrating nature, both wild and near. Wild is where you find it and the Sierra Club is proud to be a part of ongoing work to connect people with the outdoors. We look forward to continuing that work by investing nearly one million dollars over the next three years to build and maintain trails to increase community access to nature across the country,” said Peter Martin, Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation.

“Canoemobile is bringing environmental engagement and awareness to thousands of urban youth in cities across America,” said Greg Lais, Executive Director of Wilderness Inquiry. “This year it will be in 20 cities from Omaha to the Bronx. Our goal is 50 cities reaching 200,000 kids annually by 2020.”

“Great Outdoors America Week is a time to renew our commitment to connecting young people with America’s parks and wild places,” said Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society. “From urban parks like this one, to the most pristine wilderness areas, America’s public lands provide opportunities to relieve stress, get active, have fun and connect with nature. It is up to all of us to share these rewarding experiences with the next generation. The Wilderness Society is proud to partner with the Outdoors Alliance for Kids in hosting this event.”

Today’s event supports the America’s Great Outdoors and Let’s Move Outside initiatives and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership.

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than seventy businesses and organizations including the American Heart Association, Children & Nature Network, Izaak Walton League of America, National Recreation and Park Association, National Wildlife Federation, The North Face, the Outdoor Foundation, Public Lands Service Coalition (a program of The Corps Network), REI, Sierra Club, Wilderness Inquiry, The Wilderness Society and the YMCA of the USA to address the growing divide between children, youth and the natural world. For more information: http://outdoorsallianceforkids.org.

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