Try this for healthcare reform: getting kids outdoors

Rep. Polis and ELK kids

Rep. Polis and ELK kids study insects and discuss water conservation.

Aug. 7, 2009– (DENVER, Colo.) While others across the state debated about healthcare reform, Congressman Jared Polis joined Environmental Learning for Kids (ELK) in bringing health to kids:  getting them outdoors.

Polis and 25 school-aged youth went fishing, studied bugs and learned about water quality, aquatic biology and conservation today at the EB Rains Jr. Memorial Park in Northglenn, Colo.

“Colorado is home to world-class skiing, hiking and biking, and countless other wonders of the great outdoors, and we need environmental education programs like ELK to help preserve these treasures for future generations to enjoy,” Polis said.  “ELK is an easy and fun way for young Coloradans to experience nature firsthand and to gain a greater appreciation of our planet and the great outdoors.”

ELK gets kids outdoors through science education, leadership training and mentorship with culturally diverse youth across the Denver area. Ninety-five percent of the youth Environmental Learning for Kids serves are either black or Latino, and ELK students experience a 98 percent high school graduation rate. That compares to the national rate of less than half, according to the National Equality Project.

Polis said it’s important to him that youth and families of all backgrounds experience the outdoors and take ownership over Colorado’s natural resources.

“We’ve seen that kids these days aren’t getting outside – they have vitamin D deficiencies because of it,” Stacie Gilmore, ELK executive director, said. “By joining ELK, youth and their families have lots of opportunities to learn about the environment and experience it together. By providing food, transportation to our activities and Spanish-speaking staff, we strive to overcome all the barriers that keep kids from experiencing the outdoors.”

For more information, please contact Kirsten Lamb at 303-523-6917.

ELK provides hands-on activities as well as classroom-based education to promote environmental conservation. As a Denver-based 501(c)3, ELK was established in 1996 by two wildlife biologists who saw a growing need to introduce and educate Colorado’s urban youth about science, leadership and careers. Since ELK’s founding, 70,000 youth and families of color have been introduced to and immersed in science education, and many youth have become first-generation college students and college graduates. For more information, visit or contact Kirsten at