Ocean Shores, WA – Funding to Get Kids Outside is coming to Grays Harbor and other counties.

Governor Jay Inslee announced that approximately $1.3 million in funding will work to allow more than 14,000 kids to explore parks, forests and other outdoor places in Washington.

As part of the No Child Left Inside grants, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will use the funds to provide outdoor education and recreation to underserved youth. 

Grays Harbor is set to receive over $9,000 to assist local youth.

The local funds will be used by the City of Ocean Shores to buy tablets, backpacks, compasses, binoculars, safety vests, rain ponchos, magnifying glasses, field books, and other supplies to help 80 elementary school kids participate in outdoor programming.

The 3-week program will incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math with outdoor recreation, community service, and No Child Left Inside Grants Awarded 2019 3 cultural enrichment opportunities. With support from the Coastal Interpretive Center, the program will include field trips to local beaches, Damon Point, a local hatchery, and the Quinault Rain Forest.

The program is intended to help youth gain leadership and socialization skills, inspire self esteem, learn, and provide an enriched outdoor experience. The City will contribute $39,395 in cash, in-kind services, and donations of labor.

According to the release, this year’s No Child Left Inside grants will help kids across the state spend a total of more than 1 million hours outside.

“This is about investing in our kids and making sure they have equal access to the outdoors,” Inslee said. “We know that kids who spend time outdoors do better in school, are less stressed and get more exercise and social interaction. Some of my best childhood memories happened outdoors, and this funding is a big part of making sure these opportunities–to learn, grow and discover the world around us–are open to everyone.”

“State Parks is excited about this grant program that gets young people outdoors for healthy recreation and environmental education,” said Don Hoch, State Parks director. “We are seeing more and more studies show how important getting outdoors is for our health, so we are thrilled to offer this opportunity to the youth of Washington. We also are thankful to the Recreation and Conservation Office for working with us and administering this valuable program.”

The No Child Left Inside program is in its fourth grant cycle, and Inslee says that it is seeing its highest demand ever with 173 applications this year, a 44 percent increase compared to the previous grant cycle.

“That kind of growth shows an unparalleled level of support for this program and what it means for kids’ health, emotional development, attention spans, understanding and overall happiness,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants. “With only enough funding for about 16 percent of the $8 million requested, it also represents how critical the need is in communities across Washington.”

Grant recipients will be matching the state funding and are contributing nearly $3 million in donations, equipment, labor, additional grants and other resources.

Benton County $25,000 Pierce County $144,962
Chelan County $4,200 San Juan County $24,963
Clark County $15,100 Skagit County $25,000
Cowlitz County $24,998 Snohomish County $20,958
Grays Harbor County $9,160 Spokane County $104,580
Jefferson County $49,980 Thurston County $149,931
King County $446,970 Whatcom County $124,200
Mason County $136,490 Yakima County $43,510

Projects under this funding are starting as early as this month and wrapping up in June of 2021, with the Recreation and Conservation Office likely accepting new project applications in September of 2020.

Funding for the No Child Left Inside grant program comes from the state general fund and was one of a dozen recommendations of the 2014 Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation. The task force was charged with finding ways to increase participation in outdoor recreation, which has significant social and economic benefits.

More information about No Child Left Inside is available online.