'Every Kid in the Park' program takes students outdoors

There's a growing feeling that with the role that technology plays in our lives... kids are not getting outdoors enough.

COMMERCE CITY - Though the bus ride is short to Commerce City, the change of scenery is a long way from Centennial Elementary School in Denver where Anabelle Marquez attends as a fourth grader.

"Kids need to experience nature and it's good for the mind and the brain because sometimes getting couped up in class isn't really good," Anabelle said.

She and her classmates traveled to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to learn how to plant wildflowers, to walk on a nature hike around a lake and to perform some Zumba moves in the park.

"Got my heart rate started," Anabelle said.

This is part of the "Every Kid in a Park" program. Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife, and US Forest Service are working together in this initiative to bring students back to nature.

"I think a lot of kids these days are missing that with the technology and staying indoors a lot," Tom Wall, Rocky Mountain Arsenal Education Specialist, said. "They're losing a lot of their contact with nature and it's time that we get them back out here."

Kim Weiss is the associate director of a nonprofit called Environmental Learning for Kids which focuses on helping kids in Denver schools see something outside of city life.

"Being able to realize that you don't always have to go to the mountains to be in nature and to enjoy the outdoors," Weiss said. "The outdoors isn't scary and parks aren't scary."

Weiss hopes these experiences can broaden the minds of kids at a young age.

"It opens their eyes to not only this is an amazing place, but also like, hey, I could also work here," Weiss said.

Anabelle thinks this is a fine idea. 

"Not a lot of kids do this and I think it's important that we should do it," Anabelle said. "I don't live close to nature, but I really like it."

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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