After months of navigating uncharted waters, millions of California families are grappling with the reality that life will not return to normal this Fall and we are defining a new normal in our lives. Yet with great challenge comes great opportunity. On Thursday August 6, we hosted a discussion with California's First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and explored solutions for a brighter path forward.
We were joined by Lesford Duncan, Senior Director of Programs, Outdoor Outreach, Santos Plaza, Youth Field Instructor, Outdoor Outreach and Kim Moore Bailey, CEO, Youth Outside. We were honored to have an incredible panel joining us for a thoughtful conversation about park access and the essential benefits they provide specifically for youth during this extraordinary time.
If you weren’t able to join us, don’t worry. You can listen to the full webinar recording here.
Holly started the conversation with, “Pathway to Parks is a campaign we launched last year understanding that access to our incredible parks for those challenged youth are incredible places to experience health, mental health, connect with your community, connect with these extraordinary places. And what we have learned and seen more than anything is that during this challenging times people are flocking to the outdoors and they’re seeking a reprieve with nature. What we have also seen is some people do have access and unfortunately it’s really clear who doesn’t have access.”
As a community of park supporters and lovers, we know that access to nature is essential to public health and quality of life. It is also a privilege. Far too many Californians lack access to natural spaces, and we must advocate to change this and create pathways to parks as welcoming places for everyone.
The First Partner shared, “Nature heals, nature is a savior, is a pattern interrupt, it is critical for our health and our well-being.” And continued, “It is critical that all California children have exposure and access to the outdoors on a regular basis.
Let’s Make A Difference Together
Kim Moore Baily said, “Allow nature, allow the outdoors to teach our youth people towards these outcomes. And we know that you can learn from English to science to everything in the outdoors. It’s not just about environmental science. Everything can be taught.”
We believe that equitable access to the health benefits that state parks provide is a right for all Californians — especially for youth who should be able to access state parks as incredible playgrounds and places to explore, learn, grow, and improve their overall wellness.
That’s why we are asking you today to join the movement.
As we work to preserve and protect the future of state parks, we must ensure state parks are accessible to visitors today. Every Californian should feel connected to a park system that tells the story of all Californians, creatively engages visitors and responds to California’s changing demographics and visitor preferences.
As the First Partner shared, “We have to get kids outdoors. More access to education outdoors in state parks. Its so brilliant, it makes perfect sense. I hope everyone joins the coalition Pathway to Parks.”
Developing a healthier California — for both people AND parks — starts with children having access to beaches, redwoods, green open spaces state parks offer for transformative experiences that we want to ensure every child in California can have.
Les noted that, “COVID has really shined a light on of the inequities that exist in the outdoors.” But the solutions and opportunities exists as well and went on to share, “the Outdoor Equity Grants and the commitment by the Legislature to continuing to fund equity and access programs across the state to keep kids and their families actively engaged in the outdoors, I think will really help to enable us to develop out the proofs of concepts for how we can begin to revamp and change many of our systems, whether it be from how we provide education to how we provide mental health care to how we engage youth that are in the criminal justice system or in social services. So I am excited for the path moving forward. I’m excited to have at the highest level of the state that commitment to parks equity.”
To meet this moment, we must come together to foster new innovative solutions and ideas to address difficult problems, engage leaders to enact the change, fight for the change we want for our children, and work together for a brighter future.
Will you join us? Because together we can change the world for our children.
Learn about some of the solutions we’ve identified to meet this moment.
We know not all Californians have equitable access to the outdoors and a valuable resource for youth health. See our research that demonstrates why equal access to the health and wellness benefits parks provide should be a right for all Californians.
“The idea that the outdoors is like a place of tranquility like you can even the thought of it would bring calming to my mind right and there is so much joy that can be had in the activities that you can do outside. Just being outside in itself is a healing process. Like we need the sun. We need fresh air. And I would hope that after this conversation and these inspiring words from everyone here is that we all continue to strive for the best," - Santos Plaza, Youth Field Instructor, Outdoor Outreach