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Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Helps Connect Kids with the Great Outdoors at Fun-Filled Event on t
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WASHINGTON, DC (June 26, 2013) – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell spent Wednesday afternoon walking, talking and having fun with 100 local youth at the "Kids, Youth and the Great Outdoors Festival” on the National Mall. Part of Great Outdoors America Week, Secretary Jewell was joined by White House Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, The Wilderness Society President Jaime Williams, and members of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids.

"When children get outside, they build a healthy lifestyle at a young age and create connections with nature that last a lifetime,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.  "We have a responsibility to connect kids to nature so that they grow up to be our next generation of business leaders, scientists, and conservationists.”

"The Corps of Engineers is an enthusiastic partner in President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative and is eager to strengthen partnerships and increase both awareness and participation in outdoor activities while taking care of the outdoors,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy.  "We are committed to getting kids and teens involved in conservation and restoration.”

Kids participated in several fun-filled nature-based recreation activities at the festival, including mountain bike riding with IMBA, a kayaking games with ACA, camping 101 with the Hiking Society, and live birds of prey. Secretary Jewell also held a press conference to discuss the importance of connecting children, youth and families to the outdoors.  The event ended with an urban walk from the National Mall to Capitol Hill.

"As the father of three young children, I know just how important it is for them to get outdoors and connect with nature,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "I also know that nature is not in everyone’s backyard, which is why Sierra Club is dedicated to making the outdoors more accessible to kids and families everywhere.”

"Seeing kids and teenagers having fun in the great outdoors is my favorite part of my job,” said Jamie Williams, President of The Wilderness Society. "America’s kids are the future stewards of our wild lands, and GO America Week is all about reconnecting our communities to the great outdoors.”

Great Outdoors America Week (GO America Week) is the preeminent event celebrating the nation’s collective connection to the great outdoors while advocating for its future. As one of the largest annual conservation and outdoor focused events in Washington DC, GO America Week raises awareness around outdoors issues, brings together hundreds of diverse organizations and activists to meet with lawmakers and administrators to advocate for America’s outdoor way-of-life.

"Many of us – youth and adults alike – don’t spend a whole lot of time outdoors these days,” says Jackie Ostfeld, Chair of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. "One in five of us can’t even safely walk to a park from our home. OAK is working to ensure youth and families have access, opportunities, skills and encouragement to connect with the great outdoors.”

"The best way to protect the places we care about in the long term is to pass on our passion for conservation to the next generation,” said Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. "This means getting America’s kids outside on a regular basis to experience all that nature has to offer.”

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Founded in 1880, The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling; stewardship support to help protect paddling environments; and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration and recreation.

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