All young people deserve the chance to discover what they're capable of
From a young age, youth from underserved communities are faced with obstacles that disrupt their lives. Challenges such as poverty, homelessness, gang violence, family dysfunction, and drug abuse can lead to a feeling of helplessness, a lack of supportive mentors, and a false narrative of what they can’t do and can’t be. These risk factors are further compounded by a lack of access to outdoor spaces, as nearly all low-income communities in San Diego County are characterized as “park-poor,” where youth face multiple barriers to accessing the outdoors.
At Outdoor Outreach, they know that the outdoors are a transformative place. Their programs use adventure-based programming to help participants create a narrative of resilience in the face of challenges and build confidence in their power to make a difference. With every opportunity to get outside, the young people they serve have the chance to explore their world, discover their strengths, and connect with a community of supportive peers and mentors.
Since 1999, Outdoor Outreach has connected more than 15,000 youth to the transformative power of the outdoors. In 2018 alone, their trained instructors--more than half of whom are OO program graduates themselves--led 1,738 youth in 450 adventure-based outings including mountain biking, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, rock climbing, and camping. Program graduate Pedro, who experienced gang violence for the first time when he was just 5 years old, shared: “These opportunities brought me the hope, support, and strength I needed. It allowed me to escape the negativity, to heal and catch my breath. It taught me better ways of coping, and showed me that I could continue fighting for a better me.”