California State Parks Foundation Releases New Policy Platform to Guide Pathways to Parks Campaign

Pathways to Parks Advocacy Initiative Launched in Partnership with the Office of the First Partner will Work to Increase Access to Green Space for All Californians 

Sacramento, CA – California State Parks Foundation officially put pen to paper for its Pathways to Parks advocacy initiative today releasing a policy platform designed to guide the campaign and the policies and programs it promotes. The Foundation’s new campaign, Pathways to Parks, launched in partnership with the Office of the First Partner during its inaugural Policy Forum, is dedicated to increasing access to the health and wellness benefits green spaces provide, especially for underserved youth who need access to public lands now more than ever. 

“This campaign was founded by the belief that access to the outdoors is a human right,” said Rachel Norton, Executive Director of the California State Parks Foundation. “This new policy platform marks the beginning of turning this belief into a reality – fresh ideas, dynamic partnerships and innovative solutions all built under the Pathways to Parks umbrella will work to create a stronger, healthier state where every Californian can bloom.”   

Through Pathways to Parks the Foundation is creating a platform that brings together advocates from across sectors to improve the health and wellness outcomes of the next generation of Californians. The campaign is grounded in three pillars: health, youth and access and will actively explore policies through existing resources and channels including the state’s education, health care and parks systems. Experts from each of these fields will be integral partners alongside the Foundation and First Partner in identifying diverse solutions that break down barriers to access so that ALL Californians, regardless of zip code, can experience the health benefits parks provide. 

The recommendations included in the newly released policy platform are largely driven by the mounting research on the mental and physical health benefits that the outdoors provides. Recently published research from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and California State Parks Foundation demonstrates the opportunity that our state parks hold with findings illustrating that more than half of Californians under 18 live within close range of a state park. Additional data from the research including income and age demographics can be explored using an interactive map at ioes.ucla.edu/project/youthoutdoors. This data and corresponding map clearly highlight parks as a tremendous and potentially underutilized resource to promote youth health across the state. 

“This research and our new policy platform will guide the immediate next steps forward for the Pathways to Parks campaign,” said Holly Martinez, Director of Programs and Advocacy for the California State Parks Foundation. “With the new tools in our toolbelt from our research we are now able to identify the communities most in need, tailor potential solutions and more effectively help those within arm’s reach of open space begin to experience the proven health and wellness benefits they provide.” 

To learn more about the Pathways to Parks campaign visit www.calparks.org/what-were-doing/pathways.