Below is a collection of potential partners that you might think about reaching out to as you start to build a network of partners in your community and take action in a meaningful way. Some of these partners are specific to certain regions and there are probably multiple groups that are unique to your region who share the purpose to get people back outside connected with nature. After exploring this list you may want to do some searching for partners in your region. This list will continue to grow as more and more companies take action and build partnerships in their community. Please leave a comment below if you have ideas or experience with other partners in your community.
The Children and Nature Network is a directory for thousands of grassroots groups involved in the movement to reconnect children with nature. The website has a searchable database that will help you locate groups in your area that would be interested in partnering to get people living healthier lives outside. This is a great way to collaborate with people who are already taking action to organize, raise awareness and get kids back outside. USE THIS TOOL!!!
Visit site: www.childrenandnature.org/directory/
Action for Healthy Kids helps “transform schools to provide healthier foods, physical education and comprehensive physical activity for all students.” Come Alive Outside has strong ties with this group in Illinois and North Carolina, but there is potential to partner with them in any state. This group often works through Parent Teacher Associations at schools to provide resources for projects at the school that make the lives of students healthier. The group is very interested in helping schools build gardens and outdoor learning environments. Common problems that they run into include a need for skilled labor and resources in building these spaces as well as consistency in helping schools maintain the space after it is installed. If you partner to do a project at a school be sure to involve parents, teachers and students the process and make an event out of it.
Visit site: www.actionforhealthykids.org
-“Programs that help youth create aspirations for the future, providing opportunities for career exploration and educational enhancement.”
-“Initiatives that develop young people’s capacity to engage in positive behaviors that nurture their own well-being, set personal goals and live successfully as self-sufficient adults.”
-“Club programs that help develop fitness, a positive use of leisure time, reduction of stress, appreciation for the environment and social and interpersonal skills.”
Visit site: www.bgca.org
Your local YMCA can be a great partner for projects and events in the community. One of the main goals of the YMCA is promoting healthy living. Especially in recent years, the YMCA has started putting even greater focus into fighting and preventing childhood obesity. Healthy Kids Day is an initiative that takes place around the country in the early spring and provides a great opportunity for partnerships with Come Alive Outside. The YMCA has a very well-established organizational structure and substantial funding for leading initiatives in the community. Depending on how ambitious you are, you may want to reach out to YMCA leaders at the county or state level.
Visit site: ymca.net
LOCAL DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION
Parks and Rec is always a great resource. Many Departments of Parks and Recreation often have funding for projects but are unsure of what to do. The landscape profession can play an important role in helping leaders imagine beautiful, useful spaces that will draw people outside and get them engaged in active play. It may be valuable to reach out to both local and state department of Parks and Rec. For example, in North Carolina, Recreational Resource Services is an organization associated with NC State University that makes decisions for how grants and funding from the State Parks will be spent each year. Connecting with these groups can be extremely important especially if you are looking to do a larger scale project to build or renovate a space that creates the opportunity for people to Come Alive Outside!
Local schools can be great partners for small projects and events. If you are thinking of doing some kind of larger project, for example building a garden or outdoor learning environment, it can be complicated if you go directly to the school. The ease of working with schools usually comes down to how inspired an administrator is about creating change. Some contractors have found it easier to work through Parent Teacher Associations rather than going directly to the school. Very successful projects with schools have included simple things like bulb-planting but range up to more extended projects like designing and building an outdoor classroom. Other resources like Action for Healthy Kids may help you locate a school that is already trying to renovate or build a new space.
Other local businesses can be great partners in creating the opportunity for people to live healthier lives outdoors. In the past, landscape contractors have partnered with local businesses when putting on an event in the community. Especially if there are other businesses that are connected to the outdoors or creating healthy lifestyles (sporting goods store, local gym, restaurants, etc…) they may be interested in participating in or sponsoring some part of your event. The biggest lesson that landscape contractors have found in organizing community events and finding partners is “All you have to do is ask.” Especially because so many people see the problem of kids spending all of their time inside, most people really identify with the purpose behind Come Alive Outside.
It can also be very effective and valuable to think about approaching current or prospective clients to partner on a project or an event. Even if you are not actively pursuing their business right now, getting connected with the other business leaders in the community is always a good thing. Connect with them and help them find a meaningful way to make a difference in the world and you have a very strong basis for a relationship in the future!
Some contractors have had great luck partnering with their local governments to declare their town a Come Alive Outside Community. If you are interested in doing this, please c0ntact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with further tools for approaching your city council and other local officials. Unless you already have traction in your local politics, this can be a frustrating place to start. Initially we recommend taking some kind of action that doesn’t require buy in for the local government at first, just to make it easier to make things happen. You may want to invite leaders from the government to come out to the event or project that you are working on so that they can show their support and get an understanding of the great things happening in their community!
OTHER PARTNERS TO CONSIDER