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Agencies work to get kids outside with grant program

PIERRE -- The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department and the state Department of Health recently teamed up in an effort to increase the amount of time children in after-school programs spend outdoors.

The two departments recently awarded nature activity totes, filled with items to encourage outdoor activities, to 114 after-school and out-of-school programs across the state. Based on class sizes provided by applicants, the totes will reach nearly 7,000 children.

This is the third installment of the grant program. In the first two years, the Game, Fish and Parks Department reached more 12,500 preschool-age children by awarding backpacks to 424 childcare providers across the state. Follow-up surveys showed that childcare providers were going outside more often and spending longer periods of time outside each time.