How to Create Outdoor Spaces for All

NWF Launches Thrive Outside Greater Philadelphia

Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy time outdoors. The more people who connect with nature, the more we all benefit. Spending time outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic reduced stress and led to better mental health and well-being in many people.

But today 100 million Americans, including 28 million children, do not have access to a safe park near their homes. For many people who are Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian, and people with varying abilities, recreating outside may involve microaggressions, harassment, and in many cases, acts of violence. That’s why the National Wildlife Federation launched Thrive Outside Greater Philadelphia.

Learn more about the importance of creating safe spaces in the outdoors from our Creating Safe Spaces initiative.

Creating safe, readily accessible access to the outdoors for all people can be a step toward building better health and quality of life for all.

The Solution: Thrive Outside

On Saturday, October 16th 2021, Thrive Outside Greater Philadelphia partner Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership hosted a celebration of National Thrive Outside Day 2021. Neighbors from the local neighborhood gathered for a WeWalkPHL stroll on a Circuit Trail in Tacony Creek Park, a scenic green space that follows the Tacony Creek on its way to the Delaware River.

Participants looked for animal tracks, learned about the trees that provide food and shelter for wildlife, and bird-watched, while a tree planting helped to help preserve and restore the city’s tree canopy. After the walk, participants enjoyed breakfast and special outdoor giveaways, including bottles sponsored by Hydroflask as well as Ranger Rick magazine subscriptions and plushies.

The Thrive Outside Initiative works at the grassroots level to help communities make outdoor recreation accessible for all. The Initiative awards multi-year, capacity-building grants to build and strengthen networks focused on providing children and families with ongoing experiences in the outdoors. 

The National Wildlife Federation is proud to be one of the latest Thrive Outside communities across the country.

How We Thrive Outside

The National Wildlife Federation was chosen to charge a multi-year effort by the Outdoor Foundation. Greater Philadelphia Thrive Outside is a community-led initiative, built by the Alliance for Watershed Education, Circuit Trails network, Delaware River Watershed Initiative, and Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, to make outdoor experiences accessible for all.

Neighbors from the area gathered for a WeWalkPHL stroll on the Circuit Trail in Tacony Creek Park, a scenic green space that follows the Tacony Creek on its way to the Delaware River.

This initiative is working with communities to improve the safety of their outdoor spaces, walkability and access to their parks, and ensure parks and outdoor spaces are culturally inclusive, in order to help power a movement for clean water, clean air, and healthy communities.

Thrive Outside Greater Philadelphia partners with local groups who build authentic and mutually-beneficial relationships with communities — particularly those communities historically left out of the conservation conversation. Part of this effort includes facilitating outdoor opportunities and spaces that are reflective of the people in those communities such that community members see themselves in the parks and green spaces surrounding them.

Neighbors from the area gathered for a WeWalkPHL stroll on the Circuit Trail in Tacony Creek Park, a scenic green space that follows the Tacony Creek on its way to the Delaware River.

When more people have more meaningful experiences outdoors, their quality of life and social well-being improve, and in turn, their communities become stronger and more sustainable. 

Now is the time to come together around solutions that make populations stronger and healthier to ensure communities are prepared for the next public health crisis, and that’s why we’re proud to support this critical effort in Greater Philadelphia.

Written by Grant LaRouche

In the Mid-Atlantic? Get outdoors through our Alliance for Watershed Education!

Be AWE’d! Visit one of the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River‘s 23 environmental education centers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The Delaware River is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi, and its watershed stretches all the way into upstate New York, providing clean drinking water for more than 13 million people – that’s nearly 5% of the entire United States’ population! The Delaware River watershed provides important ecological habitats to a multitude of species, and provides recreation for cyclists, hikers, paddlers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Our centers host events indoors and out, and boast some of the most interesting outdoor activities in the country.