Because of growing civil unrest , I joined a coalition of fellow park enthusiasts. Our group brainstormed ideas about how we could use our combined platforms to help. We learned that Black people represent a very low percentage of park visitors in proportion to percentage of the population. We began to reach out to organizations which encourage people of color to explore our public lands.
Each month, our group intends to spotlight one of these organizations. Past features include:
Youth Opportunities Program: Training Youth Leaders to Be Outdoors►
Building upon that success, we are highlighting Youth Opportunities Program for the month of November. Youth Opportunities Program is a leadership training unit of the Appalachian Mountains Club. With headquarters in NYC and Boston and outdoor facilities throughout the Northeast, YOP has trained over 5000 youth leaders. The leaders in turn have taken over 300,000 youths on trips outdoors. The video below provides a glimpse into the YOP’s activities and talks about how the idea grew out of the Civil Rights Movement of the late sixties.
Youth Opportunities Program trains and supports educators with AMC resources so that access to outdoor experiences is equitable for their groups of young people, especially those whose racial identities are underrepresented in outdoor spaces. I spoke to Jessica Parsons, YOP director and she told me that the training program takes instruction beyond just the technical skills needed to be safe outdoors. Educators also learn about contributions to the movement from outdoor leaders of color such as Carolyn Finney, author of Black Faces, White spaces.
After completing the training, YOP leaders have access to the AMC’s resources which they use to provide enriching experiences for their youth groups outdoors. These resources include equipment, AMC-owned outdoor centers and partnerships with the National Park Service and State Park agencies.
Other social media: Article about the NY/NJ YOP unit
Link to Donation: Donate directly to the YOP here