“American kids today spend an average of four to seven minutes a day playing outside and we want to offer opportunities so kids will spend many hours of outdoor play each week,” says David Lucas, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (RMANWR) manager.
To help address childhood obesity and lack of opportunities for kids to spend time outside in unstructured play, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) is funding a new five-year, $25 million program that they hope will inspire a new generation of nature stewards.
The “GoWild Northeast Metro Coalition” has received a $100,000 grant from GOCO to prepare a plan that encourages youth and families to spend more time in the outdoors at local parks and the RMANWR. The coalition, composed of representatives from neighborhoods near RMANWR, will submit a plan for a $1 to $5 million program to be implemented over three years (October 2016 through October 2019).
The plan will serve communities surrounding RMANWR and will provide programs to encourage local youth and families to get outdoors more often in their neighborhood parks, the Refuge, the Urban Farm, Bluff Lake and for those with a sense of adventure, the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
The GoWild Coalition is convening focus groups in its four target neighborhoods (Commerce City, Northeast Park Hill, Montbello, and Northwest Aurora) to hear how easy or difficult it is to spend time outdoors. The input from the neighborhoods will help design the final program that the Coalition hopes will get funded by Great Outdoors Colorado in 2017.
The coalition is comprised of 13 organizations including Denver, Commerce City, Aurora, the Sand Creek Regional Greenway Partnership, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, the Urban Farm, Bluff Lake Nature Center, Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK), Mile High Youth Corps, Groundwork Denver, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the National Park Service and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver.