TRIANGLE, VA Military children face many challenges, such as frequent moves, changing schools, making new friends, and the most difficult - separation from a parent who is deployed. April 1stmarks the start of the Month of the Military Child, a celebration to let the country’s youngest heroes know their sacrifices are appreciated. National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis will speak about the importance of connecting military children with the outdoors.
The Sierra Club, Blue Star Families, Children & Nature Network, National Military Family Association,Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service are kicking off the month with an outdoor celebration for military families at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia on Saturday, April 6, 2013. Activities include kayak and canoe demonstrations, fishing lessons, environmental education stations, nature-based games and activities, and organized hikes.
Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors is part of an ongoing effort to connect military children with the outdoors and celebrate their unique service to our country. Children of deployed military families are twice as likely as those from nonmilitary families to report elevated anxiety and experience significantly higher rates of behavior problems than their peers. Outdoor activities can help military families reconnect, build strength and resilience, and alleviate stress. Together, we will honor their sacrifice as we explore and enjoy the lands they and their parents served to protect.
Events in other cities include:
Sturgeon City Park in Jacksonville, NC on April 13, 2013
Kids First Fair in San Diego, CA on April 27, 2013
Turkey Creek Ranch in Colorado Springs, CO on June 8, 2013
In addition, dozens of local events are being organized around the country. Visit sierraclub.org/GETOUT for a full listing.
“Military children serve too, and we’ve found that connecting these children with the outdoors allows them to not only have fun, but gives them and their families a sense of resiliency,” said Stacy Bare, Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Director. “The outdoors heals.”
“Our military children face many challenges right now,” said Mark Smith, Executive Director of Blue Star Families. “Between moves, school, and deployments, military kids really need a chance to get outside, play, and explore. That’s why we’re excited to join these military-serving organizations to celebrate military children outdoors.”
“From the uniforms national park rangers wear to the U.S. cavalry who patrolled our country’s earliest national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, national parks and the military have long-standing ties,” said Jonathan B. Jarvis, the National Park Service Director. “America’s national parks offer special places for service members and their families to vacation, to learn, to relax, to have fun and to be inspired.”
"Time spent in nature fosters stronger family relationships and is a great way for families to reconnect to each other; so Let’s G.O.! and get military families outside!" said Nkrumah Frazier, C&NN Let's G.O.! Co-chair.
"The National Military Family Association has long shared the belief in the healing powers of the outdoors. After more than 10 years at war, events like this that bring families together outside to make new memories are so important,” said Joyce Raezer, National Military Family Association Executive Director.
"Kids aren't getting too many opportunities to just be kids these days," said Jacqueline Ostfeld, the Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. "OAK is proud to stand with military children and their families to celebrate their service and give kids an opportunity to decompress from the daily stresses they face by getting their hands dirty and enjoying some quality family time in the great outdoors."
About the Sierra Club Mission Outdoors
Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, we are 2.1 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet. Outdoor recreation remains a critical piece of the conservation movement. Through direct programming, public education and advocacy, Sierra Club’s Mission Outdoors program combats the growing divide between America and the outdoors by increasing opportunities for all to improve their overall well-being by exploring and enjoying the natural world. Read more at http://www.sierraclub.org/
About Blue Star Families
Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, with a mission to support, connect and empower military families. In addition to morale and empowerment programs, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable. Membership includes military spouses, children and parents as well as service members, veterans and civilians. Read more athttp://bluestarfam.org
About the Children & Nature Network
The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) advocates for children, their families and communities to enhance their health and well-being and that of the Earth itself through direct experiences in nature. C&NN is leading a worldwide movement to re-connect people with nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, broad-based collaboration and support of grassroots leadership. For more information see www.childrenandnature.org.
About the National Military Family Association
Military families serve our country with pride, honor, and quiet dedication. The National Military Family Association is the leading nonprofit organization committed to strengthening and protecting the families of the men and women currently serving, retired, wounded or fallen. We provide families of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Commissioned Corps of the USPHS and NOAA with information, work to get them the benefits they deserve, and offer programs that improve their lives. Our more than 40 years of service and accomplishments have made us a trusted resource for military families and the Nation's leaders. To learn more, visit www.MilitaryFamily.org.
About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK)
OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in expanding opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. OAK believes that the well-being of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together more than 50 national organizations across the nation. Find out more on our website: http://www.
About the U.S. Forest Service
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Forest Service lands contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $27 billion per year.
About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 398 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov