Program to bring new outdoor opportunities to military families across the country
As a way to recognize the Month of the Military Child, the Kids in Parks program and Blue Star Families are joining forces and officially kicking off their partnership to help children in military families engage with the outdoors. The Month of the Military Child is designated to recognize the sacrifices made by children in the military community and praise them for the stresses and challenges they conquer.
The collaboration with Kids in Parks is a new component of Outdoor Explorers for All, a signature program of Blue Star Outdoors, which invites military families to connect with the outdoors to deal with the stresses of a military-connected lifestyle. Participants can interact with outdoor experts during virtual meetings, experience individual and group outdoor activities, and build community connections. Kids in Parks will help expand these experiences by providing Blue Star Family chapters throughout the country with self-guided activities that help affiliated families explore nature. The brochure, Backyard Adventures, will encourage children to identify birds and trees and explore their backyards with a scavenger hunt. Blue Star Families can also utilize Kids in Parks e-Adventures, smartphone-friendly activities children can enjoy in any outdoor environment.
Blue Star Families is a nonprofit organization that touches more than 1.5 million military family members every year. With chapters across the country, Blue Star Families ensures that American military families feel connected, supported, and empowered to thrive.
"Every military-connected family deserves to find connection in the outdoors," said Nicole Rawlinson, a Blue Star Parks Program DEPLOY Fellow. "That is why we are invested in developing a suite of outdoor programming that is diverse, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of our community. Through this new relationship with Kids in Parks, we are expanding these resources to our families and inviting them to the outdoors, meeting them where it feels comfortable."
Deployments, frequent moves, and overall unpredictability are among many challenges that can impact a military family's sense of belonging and quality of life. Spending time with nature can counteract these stressors and improve overall wellness in children and adults.
“We are honored to help support military families through our partnership with Blue Star Families and its national network of chapters. Our goal is to create meaningful connections to nature through outdoor recreation activities completed on bases, in military communities, and at official TRACK Trail locations,” said Jason Urroz, director of Kids in Parks. “Together, we can improve the physical, mental, emotional, and social health of kids and families through shared time together in nature.”
To improve overall health and wellness for children and families, Kids in Parks works with park partners nationwide to develop TRACK Trails. This growing network of family-friendly hiking trails features self-guided materials that turn ordinary hikes into fun-filled, discovery-packed adventures. Since its founding in 2009 by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, Kids in Parks has opened more than 230 TRACK Trails. Families who participate in Kids in Parks activities can earn prizes designed to encourage repeated participation and make continued outdoor adventures more meaningful.
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