Kids in the REACH summer program this week got an opportunity to canoe and paddleboard, set up tents and interact with nature at Esther Simplot Park in Boise.
We had the joy of partnering with Ellis Nanney, executive director of Grow Outdoor Access. Ellis provided the outdoor gear and expertise. For some of the kids in the REACH program (Refugees Empowered to Achieve), it was their first time setting up a tent or riding a paddleboard.
“My goal, as someone who grew up in Idaho and experienced having access to all the wonderful outdoor activities we have, I just want … everyone to kind of have that same opportunity and not be limited because they don’t have the proper gear,” Ellis said. (Learn more about the program in this great feature by Idaho News 6.)
Our group had a blast. There was a mix of children from refugee and U.S. backgrounds, and volunteers from the Idaho Office for Refugees, Boise State University, Glocal and the community.
At Esther Simplot Park, the kids and volunteers split up into four groups and rotated stations:
We also enjoyed hearing from Amanda Reedy, a therapist with Tidwell, as she taught the kids about using their five senses to be present in their bodies and help calm anxiety.
Joel Ryman with partner organization Gates of Hope also led a cool exercise involving the whole group to recreate the rising and falling sounds of a rainstorm — showing the group how every person’s contributions matter and can be used to build up or to tear down.
We’re thankful for this supportive community and for the beautiful opportunities we have in Idaho to connect with nature and with each other.
Author: Holly Beech
Idaho Office for Refugees Communications Manager