CLEVELAND, OH — Studies have shown that children who exercise and play outdoors regularly are more confident, do better in school and develop healthier lifestyle habits. Additionally, communities with healthy green spaces instill pride in its residents.

With more than a million and half acres of parkland in the U.S. you would assume that playing outdoors is a no-brainer but that is not the case.

Childhood and adolescence obesity rates have doubled and quadrupled in the past 30 years in part due to changing lifestyle choices and the simple fact that the green playing and recreational fields of previous generations are outdated and in need of renovation.

Project EverGreen’s “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” is a nationwide initiative to renovate and revitalize parks and athletic fields in urban communities to ensure children have access to safe green spaces on which to play and exercise. Yards, parks and athletic fields not only promote a healthier lifestyle, but contribute to economic growth, community development and benefit the environment.

“Investing in the renovation and revitalization of recreational and athletic green spaces is an investment in a healthier future for children across the country,” says Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Our goal is to make sure that safe, modern green space is available so children can make exercise, athletics and recreation a part of their daily lives.

In 2015, plans call for renovation projects in 50 locations including: Atlanta, Austin, Texas; Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Greensboro, N.C.; Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Portland, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Key contributors to the initiative include the Dominion Foundation, Performance Nutrition and the Sports Turf Managers Association, as well as dozens of local green industry professionals who donate their time and talents to complete the projects.

In recognition of “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” Project EverGreen is designating May 17-23, 2015 as National “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” Awareness Week. The week will raise awareness of the program and spotlight the program’s efforts to provide safe recreational and playing fields for America’s children.

To learn more about sponsoring or submitting a recreational green space renovation project in your community, click here.

Read about the completion of the first 2015 “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” renovation project at Wallace Park in Mableton, Cobb County, Georgia, here.

Read more on Inspiring Outdoor Play.