The city has been chosen to participate in a nationwide initiative that aims to get youth to spend more time outdoors.
Raleigh is one of 50 cities participating in Let’s Move! Outside, an initiative of first lady Michelle Obama.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane announced the program Monday, along with David Jayo, senior adviser to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and Doug McMillan, chief executive of the YMCA of the Triangle. They held a press conference at the Annie Louise Wilkerson Nature Preserve Park.
“The City of Raleigh has a long history of recognizing the importance of and investing in our award-winning parks, recreation and greenway system,” McFarlane said in a news release. “Our public parks greatly contribute to the high quality of life Raleigh offers for its citizens and we are committed to working with our community partners to ensure that together, we provide ample opportunity for children, adults and families to connect with nature and be active in the outdoors.”
For two years, the initiative will provide funding for programs at the YMCA of the Triangle to encourage youth to spend time enjoying and caring for the outdoors.
The venture is funded by a $5 million national commitment by the American Express Foundation.
“Many people in our urban neighborhoods don’t have the chance to experience all that our public lands in and around the city have to offer,” McMillan said in a news release. “This initiative will help us bring together leaders in conservation, education, recreation and service to provide opportunities for children and families to have fun, deepen their connection to the city’s natural and historic sites, develop important skills and engage in activities where they can give back to strengthen our community.”
The initiative focuses on four pillars: play, learn, serve and work, said Kim Keith, vice president of youth development at the YMCA of the Triangle.
The goal across the 50 cities is to have 10 million youth involved in outdoor recreation programs and to have 1 million care for public land. Under “work,” the program hopes to employ young adults.
Many groups in Raleigh already have programs that youth to the outdoors, Keith said. The YMCA will help coordinate efforts already in place.
Over the next six to eight weeks, the YMCA will invite local organizations to join a steering committee that will determine the details of the program. By the fall, a “summit” of groups under the committee will form to offer specific programs.
Michelle Obama initially launched Let’s Move! in an effort to combat obesity in the United States.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; @madisoniszler