Governor O'Malley Announces Maryland Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights
O'Malley celebrates Earth Day with local students, Receives Partnership for Children in Nature report & recommendations
Governor Martin O'Malley began Earth Day celebrations a day early this year, joining more than 40 third-grade students from Annapolis' Georgetown East Elementary School for an afternoon of hands-on outdoor learning activities, including a canoe along the Severn River at Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center in Millersville. The Governor took the opportunity to unveil the Maryland Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights, as he was presented with a recently completed report from the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature.
"Being out here and enjoying with these great kids the natural treasures our State has to offer is what the Children's Bill of Rights is all about," said Governor O'Malley. "It is one of the tools we'll be using to heighten awareness and ensure all Maryland children have many opportunities to connect with nature at an early age and build upon that connection as they grow."
Recognizing the importance of outdoor play and environmental education in the development of Maryland's young people, Governor O'Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature (CIN) by Executive Order in April 2008. Co-chaired by State Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick and Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin, the Governor tasked the partnership with creating an environmental literacy plan for Maryland students, increasing opportunities for structured outdoor learning in state parks and conservation lands, and enhancing school and community natural areas to enable more play and learning outdoors.
Kevin Maxwell, Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Schools and co-chair of the CIN Environmental Literacy workgroup, and Jackie Carrera, Executive Director of Parks & People Foundation and co-chair of the CIN Community & Public Lands workgroup presented the report to the Governor on behalf of the Partnership.
"This report represents Maryland's exceptional leadership by ensuring that all of our State's children will have access to Maryland's great outdoors to play, learn and develop real world skills," said Carrera. "By integrating our outstanding public education system with our awe-inspiring public lands, Governor Martin O'Malley, Secretary Griffin and Dr. Grasmick have created a plan that will make certain our children will possess the knowledge, intellectual skills, attitudes, experiences and motivation to make and act upon responsible environmental decisions as individuals and as members of their community -- a plan to ensure an environmentally-literate public."
"I am sincerely grateful to the more than 80 volunteers who worked together over the past several months to help us achieve our collective vision of One Maryland, where children from all walks of life are inspired by nature to develop to their fullest potential and to grow to become informed and responsible stewards of our environment," said Governor O'Malley. "I look forward to reviewing your report and working with Dr. Grasmick and Secretary Griffin to develop a plan for implementing your recommendations for Maryland's children and families."
Last year under the CIN initiative, Governor O'Malley created the Maryland Civic Justice Corps, a summer job and environmental education program that employs at risk youth in Maryland State Parks, which will be expanding this summer. During the 2009 legislative session, the O'Malley-Brown Administration secured record funding for Maryland's #1 ranked public schools for the third consecutive year, investing more than $5.5 billion this year in our schools.
Over the past two years, the O'Malley-Brown Administration has passed landmark clean cars legislation, created incentives to help homeowners and businesses utilize green energy, and during the most recent legislative session, passed legislation which set ambitious goals for reducing our carbon footprint by reducing greenhouse gases. In addition, through Program Open Space, Governor O'Malley has preserved more than 21,000 acres of green space throughout Maryland - more than five times the amount preserved under the previous administration.