Source: The White House

Source: The White House

On Thursday, President Barack Obama launched his “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, which provides every fourth grade student in America (and their families) free admission to National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year.

According to the White House blog, the initiative was made in part to motivate a generation of children to leave the indoors and explore:

“From sea to shining sea, our country is home to gorgeous landscapes, vibrant waterways, and historic treasures that all Americans can enjoy. But right now, young people are spending more time in front of screens than outside, and that means they are missing out on valuable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in the spectacular outdoor places that belong to all of them.”

Every Kid in a Park is also part of the lead up to the 100th birthday of the National Park Service next year. The program will begin in the 2015-2016 school year.

In addition to the free admission for fourth graders and their families, the initiative will also provide a host of services to parents, educators and schools. These include: the creation of resources to help teachers and families identify nearby public lands and waters; information on programs that support youth outings; transportation grants to schools most in need, courtesy of the National Park Foundation; and educational materials developed for K-12 teachers for use in science labs, field trip guides and lesson plans.

Source: The White House

Source: The White House

According to a White House press release, 80 percent of American families now live in urban areas and their children, on average, spend about 53 hours per week using electronic media. “America’s public lands and waters offer space to get outside and get active,” the release states, “and are living classrooms that provide opportunities to build critical skills through hands-on activities.”

Obama’s 2016 budget also includes an extra $45 million for youth engagement programs, $20 million of which are earmarked for the National Park Service.

On Thursday, the President also announced the creation of three new national monuments in Illinois, Colorado and Hawaii.

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