The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with the common interest in expanding the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth, and families to connect with the outdoors. It was formed in June 2010 through partnerships with the Children & Nature Network, YMCA of the USA, REI, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Izaak Walton League of America, The Outdoor Foundation, and National Recreation and Park Association.1 Together, they believe that “the well-being of current and future generations and the health of our planet and communities depend on humans having a personal, direct and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors.”2
Calling for policies to reconnect children and their families with the natural world, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids hopes to reverse the trend of Nature-Deficit Disorder, described by Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in the Woods. OAK supports both the America’s Great Outdoors initiative and the Let’s Move Outside! initiative of the Obama Administration, which encourage conservation efforts and outdoor physical activity and play. In 2011, OAK launched the Facebook application Get Your Nature On.3 By using a social network platform, OAK is offering children, youth, and adults a way to connect with others as they track their progress in earning OAK badges and in logging outdoor hours towards the Let's Move Outside! Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA).4 In this way OAK educates, challenges, and supports people to “get active, get healthy and get outdoors.”5
Outdoors Alliance for Kids’ founding committee has since been joined by Active Network, the National Association of State Park Directors/America's State Parks, The North Face, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity. OAK now numbers over thirty national organizations, which include Outward Bound, The Fishing Education Foundation, Association for Experiential Education, the National Military Family Association, and Recreating with Kids.6
This diversity of membership translates to influencing people in a variety of urban, rural, and suburban locations as well as a variety of specific needs, such as communities of color, of underserved and at risk youth, of military families, and of youth hunters and anglers.7 With this diverse outreach, OAK seeks to expand the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth, and families to connect with the outdoors.8
- 1. Franz, Betsy. “Outdoor Alliance for Kids (OAK) helps connect kids, families and nature.” Nature Examiner. June 3, 2010. < http://www.examiner.com/nature-in-national/outdoor-alliance-for-kids-oak-helps-connect-kids-families-and-nature > 15 July 2011.
- 2. “Outdoor Alliance for Kids.” Sierra Club: the Press Room. < http://action.sierraclub.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=179828.0 > 15 July 2011.
- 3. “OAK Makes a Move to Get More Kids Active Outdoors in Support of America's Great Outdoors and Let's Move Outside!” OAK, Outdoors Alliance for Kids. < http://sites.google.com/site/outdoorsallianceforkids/news/press-releases/get-your-nature-on > 15 July 2011.
- 4. “OAK – Outdoors Alliance for Kids.” The President's Challenge. < http://www.presidentschallenge.org/OAK/ > 28 July 2011.
- 5. “Take the OAK Challenge and Get Your Nature ON!” OAK, Outdoors Alliance for Kids. < http://sites.google.com/site/outdoorsallianceforkids/get-your-nature-on > 15 July 2011.
- 6. “Members.” OAK, Outdoors Alliance for Kids. < https://sites.google.com/site/outdoorsallianceforkids/about/partners > 15 July 2011.
- 7. Op.cit., “OAK Makes a Move.”
- 8. Op.cit., Franz.