YOUTH OUTDOORS -- Washington has begun accepting applications for the No Child Left Inside Program, which is being reactivated this year to provide outdoor experiences for at-risk children.
The Washington State Legislature funded the grant program starting in 2008, but funding dried up during the recession.
A State Parks request to reinvigorate the program was approved by lawmakers this year. The goal is to provide positive tracks for at-risk children who tend to be spending more time indoors watching television or on computers while missing out on the experiences and proven benefits of enjoying the outdoors.
The No Child Left Inside grant program is funded by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO).
The grants are intended to fund programs that provide outdoor environmental, agricultural or other natural resource-based education and recreation programs serving youth.
Applicants can be public agencies, (cities, counties, special purpose districts), Native American tribes, nonprofit organizations, formal school programs, informal after school programs and community-based programs in Washington.
“Research shows that getting kids outdoors improves their lives,” said State Parks Director Don Hoch. “We know that spending time outside reduces childhood stress and obesity and helps prevent the disengagement that many young people experience today. Outdoor education programs involving interaction with nature have been shown to improve children’s self-esteem, health, performance in school, personal responsibility and community involvement.”
Grant recipients may ask for as much as $125,000 for each program. The State expects to award about $900,000. Typical programs would be those that offer backpacking or camping, canoeing and kayaking, environmental outdoor education, fishing or hunting, hiking, orienteering or rock climbing.
“We expect the competition for this funding to be strong because people in Washington understand the value of spending time outdoors,” said Kaleen Cottingham, RCO director. “An advisory committee made up of people with expertise in outdoor education and recreation programs will evaluate and score the grant proposals to ensure a fair process and ensure that only the best projects receive funding.”
Applications, available online, are due Feb. 16. Grants will be awarded in April.