WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - May 06, 2014) - Children, families and schools in communities across America will celebrate their local, state and national parks and public lands on Saturday, May 17th in commemoration of 2014 Kids to Parks Day. National Park Trust estimates more than 500,000 people will attend park events planned in 50 states and Washington, D.C. in what is fast becoming America's national day of play.
National Park Trust (NPT) launched kidstoparks.org where events are listed by state and the website features helpful downloadable tips and guides to help children, families and teachers plan park adventures. NPT has also launched a weekly contest on facebook.com/nationalparktrust, offering engaging and fun activities leading up to Kids to Parks Day. Those who pledge at the site will also have a chance to win a grand prize.
"Four years ago, NPT launched this grassroots movement to encourage families to engage with and celebrate our parks across the United States. Families, schools and park officials have embraced this fun event -- a national day of outdoor play -- and it is fast becoming America's unofficial kick off to summer," said Grace Lee, executive director, National Park Trust.
To date, 358 mayors representing 50 states and Washington D.C. and 16 governors (Md., Colo., Va., W.Va., Mo., Nev., Del., Ark., Miss., Ariz., Il, Ind., Iowa, N. Mex., N.C., Tenn.) have issued proclamations.
"Kids to Parks Day is the perfect way to jumpstart the summer and get families playing outdoors in parks. The American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging families across the country to take the pledge and discover a park on May 17," stated Dr. Robert Zarr, national spokesperson, American Academy of Pediatrics.
National Park Trust's Kids to Parks Day is officially in support of the First Lady's Let's Move initiative, and NPT's collaborators include: the American Academy of Pediatrics, America's State Parks, Department of the Interior, National Park Service, NFL Players Association, National Recreation and Park Association, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, Boy Scouts of America, US Play Coalition, National Education Association, National Geographic Kids, American Hiking Society, Children & Nature Network, National Environmental Education Foundation, and National Park Hospitality Association.
"Kids to Parks Day is a terrific way to discover your state parks. We are delighted to partner with National Park Trust on this important movement that will get hundreds of thousands of kids and their families to parks on May 17 and throughout the summer," stated Lewis Ledford, executive director, National Association of State Park Directors.
Kids to Parks Day is the signature event of NPT's popular environmental education school program Where's Buddy Bison Been?®. Through its woolly mascot Buddy Bison, NPT encourages children to "Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!" Fifty schools in 17 states and Washington, D.C. have participated in the Buddy Bison school program, which includes classroom resources, lesson ideas and fully funded park trips.
In 2012, NPT launched the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. This year, NPT awarded scholarships to 43 schools in 29 states benefiting 3,200 children, grades pre-K through 12. The scholarships will help students put their ideas into action and visit, learn and play in their local, state and national parks and celebrate the day.
Families can pledge to participate at kidstoparks.org. When they visit a park on May 17th, kids and parents are encouraged to tweet #kidstoparks or send in photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsors for Kids to Parks Day include Southern Company Charitable Foundation, Inc., First Solar, Booz Allen Hamilton, Guest Services, Inc., The North Face, and 3M.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARK TRUST National Park Trust is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and protection of our nation's critical parks and public lands and the engagement of our youth -- especially those who are underserved -- with nature. As people spend more time indoors and as successive generations grow up with less of a connection to nature, NPT wants everyone to have an American park experience. To achieve this, NPT is preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow (parktrust.org).