Congressman Jim Marshall will be visiting Newton County next Tuesday to talk about No Child Left Inside, proposed legislation that if passed, may provide funding for more environmental education and projects such as Chimney Park.
Marshall (D-Georgia) will visit the site of the proposed park, which is adjacent to the Newton County Library at 6 p.m. His appearance is sponsored by Friends of Newton Parks Inc., a local nonprofit working to raise funding for Chimney Park, which is to be completely handicapped-accessible.
Currently sitting in the House of Representatives, the No Child Left Inside Act, House Resolution 3036, would provide $100 million annually for outdoor nature education for children, which could include funding for Chimney Park.
"The whole concept of Chimney Park, before they ever came up with the legislation is to have a place so kids can get outside and play and get their hands dirty and catch frogs and lizards," said David Waller, a member of Friends of Newton Parks.
Chimney Park has been in the planning stages for a year and a half now. The park is envisioned as occupying 30 acres of donated county land behind the library and the Newton County Health Department. It will be built alongside and incorporate the county's expanding trail system.
The park is expected to cost $3.5 million. Waller said Friends of Newton Parks is holding back on a big fundraising push for the park until the economy turns around.
"This will be a huge asset to our community," Waller said. "It's something I'm personally exited about. We want this to be a park for all people but there is going to be an emphasis on children with special needs."
The legislation is expected to be voted on in the House when it reconvenes in September. The act previously won strong bipartisan support in the House Education and Labor Committee earlier this summer, according to the No Child Left Inside Coalition.
The coalition, which is supported by Friends of Newton Parks, seeks to reconnect children with the nature through outdoors play and hands-on environmental education which experts say has proven mental, emotional and physical benefits.
The public is encouraged to attend Tuesday's meeting and to bring their children with them.