"Kids to Parks Day" to be Held Saturday, May 16

5th annual event includes parks all across the U.S.

Victoria Snowber
The fifth annual Kids to Park Day encourages families to go to one of the many parks and public spaces found in the U.S., and have fun together.. Victoria Snowber

Consider your calendar filled on Saturday, May 16! Kids Park Day, an initiative sponsored by the National Park Trust (NPT), invites children, families, and schools across the United States to visit their local, state and national parks and other public lands on Saturday, May 16 in an effort to celebrate these important, special places.

To help families plan activities and find events at their local parks, the NPT launched kidstoparks.org.

There you can look up park events by state and city. The website also includes helpful downloadable tips and activity guides to help children, families and teachers plan park adventures. As an added bonus, if you pledge to participate in Kids Park Day and register on the website, you'll have a chance to win a Nikon COOLPIX L830 camera.

“Five years ago, NPT launched this grass roots movement to encourage families to discover and celebrate our country’s parks and public lands and water. Families, schools, park officials and elected 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.
“This year’s Kids to Parks Day takes on special significance as the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its milestone Centennial celebration in 2016 and recently launched its Find Your Park campaign.

We hope families across America will use Kids to Parks Day as a great reason to celebrate our National Parks and connect with favorite parks and public lands,” added Lee.

Some school-aged children may be familiar with NPT's very popular  Buddy Bison School Program which teaches environmental education.

The Kids Park Day is the signature event for this program. With the friendly Buddy Bison serving as a mascot, NPT encourages children to “Explore outdoors, the parks are yours!”  Sixty schools in 18 states and Washington, D.C., have participated in the Buddy Bison school program, which provides classroom resources, lesson ideas and fully funded park trips that enhance and expand school curricula.
In 2012, NPT launched the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest. This year, NPT awarded scholarships to 51 schools in 28 states benefiting 3277children, grades pre-K through 12 in Title 1 schools. The scholarships will help students put their ideas into action and visit, learn, steward and play in their local, state and national parks and public lands this month.
If you do visit a park on Kids Park Day, tweet  about your fun with the hashtag #kidstoparks or, if you take any pictures, send your photos to buddy@buddybison.org. Note that pictures can be posted and shared online.

National Park Trust estimates more than 500,000 people will attend park events across the country in what they are referring to as "America’s national day of play."

Of course, you don't have to participate in a planned activity while at the park. There are plenty of things you can do at the park while there with your family:

The NPT's Kids to Parks Day works in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let’s Move! Initiative, which is also celebrating its fifth anniversary. Other NPT collaborators include: the National League of Cities, America’s State Parks, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Park Service, National Recreation and Park Association, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Boy Scouts of America, US Play Coalition, National Geographic Kids, American Hiking Society, Children & Nature Network, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Outdoors Alliance for Kids, National Environmental Education Foundation, City Parks Alliance, and American Recreation Coalition.

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