The Kansas Wildscape Foundation has designated Saturday, May 4, as the second annual Outdoors Kansas for Kids Day. Getting kids into the outdoors and having fun are the cornerstones of OKKids Day.
Wildscape and its program partners plan to have well over 10,000 Kansas kids hiking, canoeing, fishing, biking, hunting and bird watching on OKKids Day at Kansas' state parks, at many of the city and county parks, and at other exclusive sites throughout the state.
The initial OKKids Day in September 2001 attracted more than 5,000 Kansas Kids at 28 event sites with more than 500 volunteers and 50 local sponsors. Bass Pro Shops was the national program sponsor in 2001 and is continuing their sponsorship for 2002.
"We are very excited about OKKids Day and what it means for the kids and parents of our state," said Megan Coatney, OKKids Coordinator for the Kansas Wildscape Foundation. "For many of them, it will be an introduction to the enjoyment of the outdoors; for others, it will be a reawakening of their outdoor interests."
A major partner with Wildscape is the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, who will host OKKids Day events at most of the state parks it manages. "Our park managers are putting together a wide range of activities for our young guests," says Mike Hayden, secretary of the agency. "We are excited about showcasing the many lakes, marshes, trails and resources of our parks. Outdoor traditions -- whether they involve camping, hiking, fishing, or hunting -- are important legacies for our state, and that is what OKKids Day, and our department's 'Pass It On' program, are all about."
The Kansas Recreation and Park Association (KRPA) has endorsed OKKids Day, and many of its 240 members are signing up to host events. Laura Kelly, executive director of KRPA, sees OKKids as a natural extension of their programs.
"Getting kids involved in learning skills and having fun in an outdoors setting promotes an active, healthy lifestyle as an alternative to the rather sedentary lives many of them lead," Kelly explains. "While many of the sites and events are set, others are being added every week."
"Virtually everyone we talk to about OKKids wants to get involved," says Harland Priddle, executive director for the Wildscape Foundation. "The beauty of the program is that each partner organization can plan and conduct the types of outdoor activities consistent with their missions and their facilities. All events are free to the public, and prizes will be provided for participants. We'll also be encouraging individuals and families to enjoy the outdoors on May 4, even if they don't go to an organized event site." Events and sites will be posted on the Kansas Wildscape Foundation website, www.kansaswildscape.com , in the near future. For questions and additional information, contact Megan Coatney, (785) 843-9453, or email CoatneyMegan@aol.com