Proponents Aim to Improve Education, Access to Great Outdoors for Communities of Color
CARSON CITY, NV – Last night, the Assembly Committee on Ways & Means held a hearing on bill AB128, to make an appropriation to the Outdoor Education and Recreation Grant Program Account. Proponents of the bill argue funding will improve education and access to outdoor trails, parks, monuments, and other spaces, particularly for children, in underserved communities, including communities of color and low-income communities.
“The Outdoor Education and Recreation Grant Program has worked successfully to engage Nevada students, of all backgrounds and income levels, on the joys and importance of protecting our outdoors,” said Annette Magnus, Executive Director of the Institute for a Progressive Nevada. “We thank Assembly Majority Leader Sandra Jauregui for sponsoring legislation to make an appropriation funding this program so that we can continue to see results in the form of young people participating and growing a fondness for our unique desert ecosystem. Young people in underserved communities often lack the resources, transportation, or opportunities to visit public parks, trails, bodies of water, and other outdoor spaces. With this funding, appropriate organizations focused on youth civic engagement can expand their reach and connect these kids with our outdoors. We urge legislators on the committee to approve this budgetary appropriation so that the critical work to inspire young people in the stewardship of our outdoor spaces may grow and prosper.”
“Being outdoors helps children be creative and curious, create great memories that will last a lifetime, and provides significant health and cognitive benefits. Studies find children that spend more time outdoors have improved physical health, better problem-solving skills, increased academic performance, reduced stress, and enhanced social skills. This includes performing better on standardized tests, demonstrating more enthusiasm toward school, and having fewer attendance problems.” said Christi Cabrera, Deputy Director for the Nevada Conservation League. “This is especially true for students from low-income backgrounds. However, these children often encounter multiple barriers to the outdoors, such as general access and proximity to outdoor spaces, comfort and safety in such spaces, and financial limitations. This grant program seeks to expose all Nevada students to quality outdoor experiences regardless of background or social barriers.”
“As an immigrant mother of two raising my kids in Las Vegas, I am always telling my kids to get outdoors,” said Martinez Odilia Martinez, a volunteer with Somos Votantes. “Making sure all children can spend time outside in a safe and engaging environment starts with ensuring that the outdoor education and recreation grant program has the funding it needs to provide kids with these much-needed opportunities.”
“Access to nature should be a fundamental right to all children, regardless of their background or income level,” said Jermareon Williams, Nevada Government Affairs Manager, Western Resource Advocates. “Nevada provides its residents and visitors abundant opportunities to experience the beauty of its land, waters, and wildlife. However, right now, many children living in underserved communities don’t have the same access to all that Nevada has to offer because of the barriers of transportation costs, necessary funding to improve parks and limited outdoor recreation in low-income areas. AB128 reduces such barriers and provides our youth the opportunity to experience Nevada’s great outdoor spaces. We are thankful for Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui’s support for this bill and her commitment to a more equitable and inclusive outdoors.”
“In Nevada and throughout the nation, there are still major barriers to participation in outdoor recreation or nature-based education and experiences,” writes Nevada Outdoor Business Coalition and the Outdoor Industry Association in a letter to the Committee. “As a society, we are beginning to better understand the impacts of closing the nature gap, which also validates the return on investment spent on programs like the Outdoor Education and Recreation Grant Program. We believe that AB128 is a meaningful step to erode existing barriers to nature while also stimulating the economy.”
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