Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director
The White House, in partnership with the Federal Land Management agencies, recently launched the Every Kid in a Park initiative with the goal of engaging and creating a next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates. The immediate goal of the project is to provide an opportunity for each and every 4th grade student across the country to experience their federal public lands and waters in person throughout the 2015-2016 school year.
The Outdoor Alliance for Kids, a national coalition of groups including the American Heart Association that aims to connect children and families with the outdoors, assisted in the Hawaii kickoff of the initiative at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge at Kahuku Point by providing over 200 healthful lunches.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and officials with the Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service also attended the kickoff to introduce a partnership with Hawaii entertainer Jack Johnson and his wife, Kim, who committed $100,000 to an effort that aims to send all 17,000 fourth-graders in Hawaii on a field trip to the state's federal lands or waters.
Fourth-graders from Sunset Beach, Kahuku and Laie elementary schools engaged in special hands-on activities that included a marine debris beach cleanup, native plant restoration, learning about sea turtles, the yellow-faced bee and habitat preservation for endangered water birds.
American Heart Association volunteer Jason Fujita, Vice President of Consumer Sales and Product Marketing at Hawaiian Telcom, attended the kickoff representing the AHA. “It was an honor to represent the American Heart Association at the event,” said Fujita, who is chair of the Association’s “beat” gala fund-raising event to be held in mid-2016. “It was fun to see the kids’ energy to learn in an outdoor setting versus the classroom. Our younger generation needs to be exposed more to the outdoors, to become aware of what that environment offers, and to get away from their television and computer screens. It was great for me to see how the money that we volunteers help to raise is invested in programs like this aimed at getting kids active again.”
We are very excited about this program and we hope it will help Hawaii youth to get out and get active.