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4th Graders In Baltimore Get First National Park Experience

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Recent research shows that our children are less physically fit than those of an earlier generation. One of the reasons? Too many electronic distractions.

Mike Schuh has more on how the National Park Service is trying to help.

While we live within a short distance of one of the country's most important national parks—Fort McHenry—a lot of local kids have never been there.

On Thursday, 1 of 20 Moravia Park Elementary students raised their hand when asked if they've attended. That's why the "Every Kid in a Park" initiative was launched by President Obama in 2015. It serves as a call to action to get all children to visit and enjoy America's public lands and waters.

Today, more than 80 percent of American families live in urban areas, and many lack easy access to safe outdoor spaces.

"So we have kids here who are going to come and have those first moments, seeing a War of 1812 soldier and drilling with muskets with them, or putting the flag up at Ft. McHenry. So they're going to get that first image, that first memory that will hopefully last with them," said Ranger Shannon McLucas, National Park Service.

Mikayla Quick is ready. A student at Moravia Park Elementary, Quick says she's looking forward to enjoying  some activities and learning something new.

Leaders from Living Classrooms were also at Ft. McHenry, along with the National Park Service, the White House, Sierra Club and other organizations to give the youngsters at Ft. McHenry a good first impression of a National Park.

If you truly could get every kid in a park, Montebello Elementary teacher Heather Tuttle believes the benefits would last a lifetime.

"My children, although they are in fourth grade, they're already thinking about where they're going to be attending college," Tuttle said. "So they know that they have to leave their neighborhood, they have to leave their comfort zone, which is difficult even for adults sometimes."

As a lead up to the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in August 2016, every fourth grader in the nation can receive an "Every Kid in a Park" pass that's good for free admission to all of America's federal lands and waters--for them and their families--for a full year.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

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