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City of Birmingham Named Focus City for National Park Service’s “Every Kid in a Park” Initiative

Media Advisory
Contact: April Odom 

City of Birmingham Named Focus City for National Park Service’s “Every Kid in a Park” Initiative

As part of President Obama’s commitment to protect our Nation’s unique outdoor spaces and ensure that every American has the opportunity to visit and enjoy them, he launched an “Every Kid in a Park” initiative that provides all fourth grade students and their families with free admission to National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year. In commemoration of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service in 2016, the President’s Every Kid in a Park initiative is a call to action to get all children to visit and enjoy America’s unparalleled outdoors. Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces.  At the same time, kids are spending more time than ever in front of screens instead of outside.  A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that young people now devote an average of more than seven hours a day to electronic media use, or about 53 hours a week – more than a full time job.

America’s public lands and waters offer space to get outside and get active, and are living classrooms that provide opportunities to build critical skills through hands-on activities.  To inspire the next generation to discover all that America’s public lands and waters have to offer, the Obama Administration will provide all 4th grade students and their families free admission to all National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year, starting with the 2015-2016 school year.  The initiative will also:

  • Make it easy for schools and families to plan trips:  The Administration will distribute information and resources to make it easy for teachers and families to identify nearby public lands and waters and to find programs that support youth outings.
  • Provide transportation support to schools with the most need: As an integral part of this effort, the National Park Foundation (NPF) – the congressionally chartered foundation of the National Park Service – is expanding and re-launching its Ticket to Ride program as Every Kid in a Park, which will award transportation grants for kids to visit parks, public lands and waters, focusing on schools that have the most need.
  • Provide educational materials: The initiative will build on a wide range of educational programs and tools that the federal land management agencies already use.  For example, NPS has re-launched a website with over 1,000 materials developed for K-12 teachers, including science labs, lesson plans, and field trip guides. And a number of federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Education, and NPS participate in Hands on the Land, a national network of field classrooms and agency resources that connects students, teachers, families, and volunteers with public lands and waterways.

To further support this effort, the President’s 2016 Budget includes a total increased investment of $45 million for youth engagement programs throughout the Department of the Interior, with $20 million specifically provided to the National Park Service for youth activities, including bringing 1 million fourth-grade children from low-income areas to national parks. This increase will also fund dedicated youth coordinators to help enrich children and family learning experiences at parks and online.

“To ensure the kids in these focus city communities are not forgotten and to benchmark urban efforts for future expansion to other communities, the National Park Service launched a campaign to institutionalize Every Kid in a Park efforts in 20 ‘focus cities’, we are excited to partner with the National Park Service and Department of Interior to make sure our students get the chance to visit sites like the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the Talladega National Forrest,” said Mayor William Bell.

Birmingham is one of the 20 focus cities. The focus cities were selected for a variety of reasons, including percentage of Title I 4th graders, cultural and historical sites/opportunities, and city alignment with other Administration initiatives like Birmingham’s participation in the 50 Cities initiative and My Brother’s Keeper.

“The ultimate goal of the focus cities campaign is for every fourth grader in those 20 cities to visit a federal land or water site. The program will start with the Fall 2016 school year and will include park rangers from around the region visiting classrooms and introducing students to new careers and science opportunities at their schools” said District 4 Councilor William Parker, Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

The list of 20 focus cities include:

  1. Albuquerque, NM
  2. Baltimore, MD
  3. Birmingham, AL
  4. Boston, MA
  5. Chicago, IL
  6. Cleveland, OH
  7. Denver, CO
  8. Detroit, MI
  9. Houston, TX
  10. Los Angeles, CA
  11. Miami, FL
  12. New York, NY
  13. Philadelphia, PA
  14. Richmond, CA
  15. San Antonio, TX
  16. San Juan, PR
  17. Seattle, WA
  18. Southwest OH (Dayton, Cincinnati, Middletown)
  19. St. Louis, MO
  20. Washington, DC
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  22. For additional information visit the website