According to The Nature Conservancy, American youth are not spending nearly as much time in nature as they spend doing other indoor activities. In fact, less than 40 percent of children participate in outdoor activities on a weekly basis.
The data also suggests that if youth are given more opportunities to have a meaningful experience outdoors, they will be more likely to value nature and feel empowered to protect it.
But lack of access remains a leading obstacle.
In San Diego, 45 percent of the total land area is green space but the most park-poor areas overlap with the communities that have higher youth populations and poverty.
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Increasing Access to San Diego’s Outdoors
The San Diego Foundation and other local organizations are working to bridge the environmental and education gap for many of the region’s at-risk youth.
For example, thanks to the San Diego Audubon Society’s OutdoorExplore! nature education program, the organization has been able to provide high-quality experiences in nature for thousands of low-income families and youth in park-poor communities. Since 2007, the program has successfully organized more than 10,000 student visits, with that number growing each year.
The Living Coast Discovery Center is another organization deeply committed to the notion that all children should have access to a quality education regardless of ability to pay. Living Coast’s Science Without Boundaries field trip program serves nearly 1,000 youth from under-served areas across San Diego.
And these two organizations are not alone. Our region has a long list of leaders and groups working to create positive, sustainable opportunities for all San Diegans.
Yet despite these major successes, support is still needed.
The Census estimates that San Diego County is home to more than 725,000 residents under the age of 18, many of whom live in foster care or come from broken homes.
In order to reach out to each of these children and provide the necessary support that allows them to succeed later in life, we need philanthropy, nonprofits, businesses and public agencies to come together.
The Foundation is committed to supporting programs that Open the Outdoors for at-risk and system involved youth, and we encourage you to do the same by contributing to one of the following organizations providing environmental education.
- Living Coast Discovery Center
- San Diego Audubon Society
- San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy
- San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
- Urban Corps of San Diego
Is your organization also making an impact in helping our youth access San Diego’s outdoors? Let us know in the comments!