EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE: PARTNERSHIP FOR A HEALTHIER AMERICA
Partnership for a Healthy America
Healthier Campus Initiative
AORE Advocacy-At-Work: Increasing Outdoors
Access for Underrepresented Populations
Greetings AORE Community!
The Partnership for a Healthy America (PHA) is devoted to ensuring the health of our nation’s youth by solving the childhood obesity crisis. To this end, PHA’s Healthier Campus Initiative (HCI) was designed to help broker commitments with colleges and universities across the country to make campuses healthier by adopting guidelines around food and nutrition, physical activity, and wellness programming. By exposing students to outdoor opportunities at a formative time in their lives through the HCI, the hope is to increase awareness about wellness issues and empower students to choose a healthier lifestyle in the long-term.
AORE has been involved in collaborative conversations with PHA about broadening the reach of the HCI since the fall of 2018, driven by our shared commitment to getting more people active outside and enjoying nature. Both of our organizations recognize that the field of outdoor recreation and education is full of obstacles that make it difficult for some places of higher learning to meet the HCI guidelines and deliver successful programming. These challenges include everything from funding gaps and risk management concerns to the need for facility improvements, more staffing capacity, expanded curriculums, and additional training support. For example, many historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and minority-serving institutions (MSI) are seeking to implement the HCI physical activity/outdoors guidelines, but struggle to do so because of the aforementioned barriers.
We are pooling our resources and collective knowledge with PHA to address this problem head on with interested HBCU and MSI schools. Together, we are building relationships at campuses across the country, developing program proposals, and exploring funding options in an effort to create a more sustainable infrastructure for these minority-serving institutions to develop robust outdoor programs that are approachable and accessible for their students. It is through our collaboration with PHA that we hope to better understand the intersections of different needs as related to outdoor pursuits.
In my role as AORE Executive Director, I recently spoke at PHA’s HCI Summit in Chicago, Illinois to address the role that our association and member programs can play in advancing the national dialogue on this systemic issue––from making space for diverse voices to expanding outdoor learning programs for underrepresented individuals who wish to pursue professional leadership and personal growth and enjoyment. There is so much opportunity out there to be a part of the force for positive change. We need new ideas; new people to bring their unique perspectives to the table and usher in the next chapter for our industry. By working together, we can keep growing together. I look forward to sharing updates on our work with PHA in the months to come.
Your in Adventure,
AORE Executive Director