Innovative BAWTmobiles Offer Affordable Transportation to get Youth Outdoors : City CarShare and Bay Area Wilderness Training Pool Resources to Serve Youth

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Here in the Bay Area, where we often pay the highest gas prices in the nation, transportation costs get lots of attention. But for many youth workers, transportation is not only expensive; it is often the missing link in efforts to get kids to nature. Short trips across the Golden Gate, or even across San Francisco from The Bayview neighborhood to the Presidio have been near impossible. But now there’s a new, innovative solution to this barrier, called the BAWTmobile. This aptly named problem-solver is part of a groundbreaking program that was recently launched by two San Francisco based non-profit organizations- City CarShare and Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT).

City CarShare has amazing systems that manage and maintain the vehicles so they can be shared by both youth workers and all of City CarShare's members.

Reports citing childhood obesity, rising rates of attention deficit disorder, low self-esteem, and a dramatically decreased connection to the natural world among our youth are unfortunately abundant these days. An increasing body of evidence, much of it cited in Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods- Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, is pointing to a seemingly simple solution to all of these complex problems: take kids to green spaces so they can explore, play and learn about nature.

To help reconnect kids to nature, BAWT purchased the two all-wheel-drive minivans (BAWTmobiles) and placed them in City CarShare's fleet of shared vehicles. Through the BAWTmobile program, teachers and youth educators can join City CarShare as BAWT approved members. As members, they simply reserve the BAWTmobiles online, access them and go. This unique program allows youth educators to avoid legal, administrative and financial drawbacks that are often obstacles to taking outdoor field trips. Since they are sharing the BAWTmobiles with all City CarShare members, they get to decrease their eco-footprint too. Theadora Ildifanzo, who is a youth worker in Visitation Valley, with Real Options for City Kids says "We're running three summer camps this summer. Not having to rent more expensive vans, and having the added flexibility of this car share program will make all the difference."

The program compliments Bay Area Wilderness Training's existing programs, which provide wilderness skills training and free outdoor gear loans for youth educators. "This partnership helps us take our work to the next level," says Kyle Macdonald, CEO of BAWT. "City CarShare has amazing systems that manage and maintain the vehicles so they can be shared by both youth workers and all of City CarShare's members."

As with all car share services, gas, maintenance and insurance are included with membership. "We're very pleased to extend car sharing in a way that supports healthy activities among youth through our partnership with BAWT. With rising gas prices adding to transportation costs, we're especially delighted that local youth educators can now save money while gaining easier, more eco-friendly access to the outdoors," said Rick Hutchinson, CEO of City CarShare.

In the average American home, the television is on for well over 8 hours everyday, according Nielsen Media Research. Unplugging the set and reconnecting kids to nature has become more important than ever. By getting outdoors through a car share program, Bay Area kids are already taking a step towards a more sustainable world.

About Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT)

Bay Area Wilderness Training, a project of Earth Island Institute, provides in-depth training for adult youth workers in skills necessary to conduct safe, high quality wilderness trips for the young people they serve. The philosophy and mission leverages a highly successful "train the trainer" model, which empowers educators by combining training with both a FREE outdoor gear loan program, and low cost transportation to get youth outdoors. For additional information contact Kyle Macdonald, (415) 788-3666 Ext. 125 or visit the Bay Area Wilderness Training web site at http://www.bawt.org.

About City CarShare

City CarShare, a local nonprofit organization, has proven to be a popular, effective and green transit option for the Bay Area. A UC Berkeley study found that City CarShare members drive 49% less than those that own cars. Based on more results from the study, City CarShare estimates that its members, who share hundreds of conveniently located vehicles, save about a million gallons of gas and reduce 25+ million pounds of CO2 emissions each year. Visit http://www.citycarshare.org for more information.

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