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Grant to help get Raleigh children active outdoors

Posted July 11

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— Raleigh is among 50 cities nationwide to win grants to help get children and teens off the couch and headed outdoors.

The grants, funded by a $5 million donation from the American Express Foundation, are part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative. In Raleigh, the funds will pay YMCA of the Triangle to hire an outdoors coordinator for two years to work with nonprofit groups and other organizations to help them increase outdoor activities for youths, from hiking to gardening to conservation activities.

"They said, 'You know, we looked at Raleigh and saw how much we value our parks and greenways,' and not only that, but we have so many incredible parks programs for kids to adults to participate in," Mayor Nancy McFarlane said during a news conference at the Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson Nature Preserve Park in north Raleigh.

"Raleigh is blessed with amazing public parks and a strong network of public and nonprofit leaders committed to getting kids outdoors, active and connected to nature," U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement. "We are nurturing a movement to foster the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, stewards and leaders, while helping young people connect to the public lands in their community."

The Department of the Interior is coordinating the effort nationally and will add a conservation corps staffer for two years to assist the program in Raleigh. The long-term goal is get youths interested in becoming leaders in conservation and taking care of parks and wild lands – and hopefully to increase the number of volunteers working on public lands in the future.

There was no word on when the program will get underway.

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