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12-01-2022 | Original Paper

Free Public Lands Admission for Children and Spillovers in Family Recreation

Journal of Child and Family Studies
Jocelyn S. Wikle, Camilla J. Hodge
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This study evaluated the Every Kid in a Park program to understand recreation and the contextual interaction between family resources, race, and recreation costs in families with young children. Using a large, nationally representative data sample from the American Time Use Survey (N = 5,119), we analyzed changes over time in recreation patterns of different socioeconomic groups before and after the initiation of the Every Kid in a Park program of the United States National Park Service. We found that free admission corresponded with overall increased frequency of hiking with a child for individuals in affected households. Changes in hiking patterns were concentrated among higher-income families, whereas no changes in family recreation were associated with socioeconomically disadvantaged populations (based on income). The findings have important implications, considering that outdoor recreation links with positive youth development, higher family cohesion, and improved overall family well-being. Additionally, results support the effectiveness of programs targeting children to increase recreation among family members.

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