If you grew up outside of a major city, you probably can’t imagine a life without parks and daily exposure to green space. However, for thousands of inner-city kids in our country this is their reality. For many young people the sounds of sirens and gunshots are more familiar than birds singing and crickets chirping.
Thus, a child’s opportunity to experience nature can be shocking and potentially life altering. For Rasheena Fountain, a young girl from Chicago’s west side, this was the case. Rasheena tells her story of going to Camp Hastings and how it impacted her relationship with the environment.
In Chicago she was surrounded by high crime rates and daily shootings. The danger was so persistent in her life that she had grown numb to her surroundings but Camp was so different. Rasheena had only ever known nature through a movie screen and was overwhelmed by the sensations of her immersion. Camp Hastings invoked feelings of wonder and “created an awareness of life beyond [her] neighborhoods.” Her and her classmates became more vulnerable, they opened up to one another and felt joyous.
Although their normal lives had to resume after the two weeks at camp, the experience with nature stayed with them into their adult years. She says her interaction with nature through camp has “given [her] the appreciation of the solitude, decompression, and calmness that can be gained from encounters with nature.”
This is just one story among many that exposes the life-changing impact nature can have on all young people. Stories like Rasheena’s are too common. If you have ever gotten lost in the woods or fallen asleep to the sound of waves, remember how lucky you are. We must preserve this beautiful planet and decrease the limitations that prevent us all from reaping its wonders. Nature Partners is leveraging business as a tool to strengthen and preserve these beautiful places in hopes that Rasheena, her kids, and their kids, will all have access to nature.
You can read Rasheena’s full story here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rasheena-fountain/empowering-innercity-yout_b_8281694.html
Photo courtesy of YMCA of Metro Chicago