Interior Department Exceeds Goal of Connecting Youth to the Outdoors in 50 Cities with Inclusion of Seattle

Part of nationwide Let’s Move! Outside movement inspiring youth to play, learn, serve and work on public lands

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: August 18, 2016
Benton Strong (City of Seattle),
Karen Westing (YMCA of Greater Seattle),

SEATTLE – The U.S. Department of the Interior is leading First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined city of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Seattle Bob Gilbertson to announce the selection of Seattle to participate in the nationwide movement. Seattle is the final of 51 cities announced nationwide over the past two years, with the second-most recent announcement of Omaha earlier this month. With Seattle, Interior has exceeded its goal of 50 cities. Learn how some of the first cities are already making a difference in kids’ lives.

Let’s Move! Outside, funded through a $2.5 million grant by the American Express Foundation, will provide two years of funding for the YMCA of Seattle to help coordinate efforts, facilitate collaboration, grow resources and increase participation in outdoor programs on all public lands – from local parks to federal lands and waters. Secretary Jewell joined about 150 local youth to participate in a service project weeding and mulching at Seward Park, which contains one of the last surviving tracts of old-growth forest within the city of Seattle.

"As a child growing up in the Seattle area, I remember exploring the beaches and forests of Lincoln Park and learning outdoor skills in Seward Park, among many other adventures," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.  "In today's wired world, where kids have many distractions, connections to nature are more important than ever and Let's Move! Outside will help unleash Seattle's strong network of public and non-profit leaders to nurture curiosity in all of the area's children, while building the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, stewards and leaders."

“It is always great to welcome Secretary Jewell back home to Seattle, where the beauty of our region awaits you around every corner,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “All summer we have held events aimed at getting kids outdoors, including last week’s Big Day of Play. We need to ensure all of our kids have access to the great outdoor spaces Seattle offers and we’re doing all we can to get them out there.”

“City residents often miss the opportunity to experience the amazing Pacific Northwest outdoors via national parks, state parks and national forests. Let’s Move! Outside will provide opportunities for children and families to enjoy the outdoors, connect to historical sites, develop skills, engage in volunteer activities and gain an appreciation of the environment and conservation,” said President & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Seattle Bob Gilbertson. “Every young person in the Pacific Northwest should have the opportunity to hike in the mountains, paddle a kayak, camp overnight in the woods, climb a rock or just sit quietly in a high mountain meadow. It’s an experience that is just as important as any school subject.”

“Community service and historic preservation have a long heritage at American Express,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation. “Since our founding more than 160 years ago, American Express has seen how America's parks and public lands contribute to our sense of national and local identity, and we are proud to lead an effort to mobilize a new generation of volunteers to protect, conserve and revitalize America's public lands and treasured national parks.”

In March 2015, Secretary Jewell announced this partnership with the American Express Foundation and kicked-off the first cities across the country to be a part of this movement. Twenty-six cities were announced in 2015 and the remaining cities were announced this year, with Seattle as the final of 51 that will participate in the initiative. For more information about the initiative, visit:

This program is part an overall strategy by the Obama Administration to connect young people to the outdoors. Other efforts include the Every Kid in A Park program to provide all fourth grade students and their families with free admission to national parks and other public lands and waters for a full year. These complement the National Park Service’s Find Your Park campaign celebrating this year’s centennial of the National Park System.  

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