Getting Every Kid Outdoors
Heba Geiang, Salt Lake City, Utah
Heba came to the U.S. as a refugee from South Sudan 14 years ago. As a participant in YouthWorks in the Parks — an initiative that connects urban youth to their public lands — Heba’s first national park experience in Canyonlands left her awed. She returned for two more park trips before joining one of our Civic Voice Workshops to learn how to share her new-found love of parks. Since then, she’s participated in our April lobby day in Washington, D.C., and testified before the Utah legislature in support of Utah’s Every Kid Outdoors Initiative.
The Every Kid Outdoors initiative, formerly known as the Every Kid in a Park program, began under President Obama and grants all fourth graders a free annual pass to their national parks and public lands. The program successfully expands young families’ access to and awareness of our park system.
NPCA proudly supports this innovative program, recognizing how well it dovetails with our own efforts to diversify park visitors and create the next generation of park stewards.
In the face of multiple reports that a former Secretary of the Interior planned to cancel the program, we engaged our supporter base and asked them to speak up, both locally and nationally. Our efforts, and those of our partners and volunteers, resulted in the passage of the Every Kid Outdoors Act within the larger Natural Resources Management Act package of bills in early 2019.
The only thing better than the feeling I get from being in the parks is seeing someone else discover these places.