GOCO created Generation Wild to break down barriers to the outdoors for kids and their families across Colorado. Today, its two-pronged approach includes both a grant program and an integrated communications campaign driving toward the same goal: get Colorado kids and their families outside more often.
Since 2015, the program has supported diverse, community-based coalitions, made up of local governments, schools, health-based organizations, youth-serving nonprofits, and others, in providing outdoor programming and employment opportunities through a flexible framework. Each unique coalition is built to reflect its community. Together, these coalitions elevate the voices of youth as they create greater access to the outdoors for everyone to enjoy.
The coalitions provide many different outdoor experiences for kids, including summer camps, after-school programs, overnight trips, and more. They’re designed for youth of all ages and experience levels, as well as their families. They also employ young people from their communities in “pathways” programs, introducing them to the possibilities of enjoying future careers in the outdoors.
In 2017, as the coalitions became established, GOCO launched the Generation Wild communications campaign to spread the movement’s message beyond coalition communities to a statewide audience, encouraging Colorado kids and their families to spend more time outside in every corner of Colorado. After all, kids grow better outside.
Research indicates that today’s youth spend more than seven hours on screens each day, and only a few minutes playing outside. To inspire and motivate families statewide, the campaign uses a variety of high-visibility, high-frequency media tactics from spring to fall and shares content on social media and online year round.
Both the grant program and the communications campaign have proved successful. Collectively, Generation Wild coalitions have offered 5,686 programs and 440 pathway opportunities to more than 40,000 youth. Kids who are involved with a coalition report spend more time outside and express increased interest in outdoor activities. On the communications side, 74% of moms surveyed after two campaign seasons were familiar with the campaign elements, 66% owned a copy of our “100 Things to Do Before You’re 12” list, and nearly half had shared Generation Wild with their network.
Generation Wild is a key driver of the equity approach outlined in our 2020 strategic plan. We’re committed to promoting the outdoors as a place for all Coloradans and look forward to continuing this work.