NATURE KIDS/JÓVENES de la NATURALEZA
Nature Kids/Jóvenes de la Naturaleza began as a five-year, $10 million collective impact project led by Thorne to provide pre-k to high school, backyard to backcountry, and family-integrated environmental education, and outdoor recreation programming to underserved youth in Lafayette. Thorne, along with other local government and community-based organizations, has expanded this model to the City of Boulder and is now leading an effort to expand and adapt this model for additional communities. Nature Kids is a key component of Thorne’s Nature For All initiative.
NATURE KIDS/JÓVENES de la NATURALEZA LAFAYETTE (NKJN)
NKJN is a five-year, $10 million collective impact project led by Thorne that provides pre-k to high school, backyard to backcountry, and family-integrated environmental education and outdoor recreation programming to underserved Lafayette youth. NKJN is also building parks and trails to ensure all Lafayette youth live within a safe 10-minute walk to nature.
The NKJN program has two goals:
1. To ensure all Lafayette youth live within a safe 10-minute walk to nature.
2. To connect youth to nature through a continuum of pre-k to high-school, backyard to back-country, and family-integrated programming.
These goals will be achieved over five years by a collaboration of over 30 partnering nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and local businesses led by Thorne Nature Experience.
During 2016, Low-income and Latino residents from Lafayette participated in a year-long, $200,000+ planning effort funded primarily by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and Thorne Nature Experience. 200 youth and adults ages 5 to 40, 80% of whom are Latino, helped NKJN collaborators to understand the barriers they face to connecting with nature and the outdoors and their ideas for removing these barriers. Gustavo Reyna, Mayor Pro-Tem of Lafayette, has called the NKJN community engagement effort, “the most significant effort to date to reach out to Lafayette’s Latino community and learn about the needs of young Latinos and their families.”
82 separate programming components to be carried out over five years and six capital construction projects to build new parks, trails, and recreational amenities have been designed as part of the NKJN program to address community members stated needs and desires. Programming components include in-school opportunities and field trips for elementary school-age youth, for-credit academic classes and after school clubs and paid employment opportunities at the middle and high school grade levels, summer camps, and a progression of family nature experiences that include day-long and overnight trips to hike, camp, and participate in the outdoor recreation activities. The capital construction projects will bring nature to the Alicia Sanchez Elementary and Escuela Bilingua Pioneer schoolyards, create parks along the Coal Creek Trail Corridor, and create linkages between low-income neighborhoods and parks and open spaces through new trails, bike-lanes, and pedestrian street crossing and widened sidewalks. The total NKJN program is valued at $10.5 million.
CLICK HERE to go to the Nature Kids/Jóvenes de la Naturaleza website.
NATURE KIDS/JÓVENES de la NATURALEZA BOULDER (NKJNB)
Research shows that time in nature benefits both physical and mental well-being. To advance equitable access to nature in Boulder, Nature Kids/Jóvenes de la Naturaleza Boulder (NKJNB) launched in 2021. Working with local partners, this pilot program will continue to design and coordinate outdoor programming into the future. Thorne Nature Experience; Cal-Wood; the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) and Parks and Recreation (P&R) departments; and other local government and community-based organizations will work together to host a series of nature and outdoor programs for underrepresented youth and their families.
The program has these goals:
1. Provide opportunities to populations experiencing health and nature access disparities.
2. Gather information about nature/outdoor programming needs.
3. Learn about the barriers that keep people from participating in outdoor activities, and work towards removing them, so all Boulder youth can connect to the outdoors and receive the good benefits from being in nature.
4. Expand programming without duplicating efforts.
In 2021, Thorne hired a community liaison to share new and expanded programs offered by Thorne, Cal-Wood, and the City of Boulder. This community liaison recruits and encourages youth, parents, and caregivers to participate in programming. They also inquire about the barriers to spending time outdoors. Thorne staff will also convene a cross-sector group of community-based organizations to determine how outdoor programming can be expanded without duplicating services. Knowledge gained from this pilot will be used to design a comprehensive Nature Kids Boulder program model in the future.