Vamos Outdoors Project is creating space for belonging

Whatcom and Skagit counties are known for their rich agriculture and breathtaking views of the North Cascades. However, access to its dense nature is often limited to those with the means to get outside. Starting in 2018, the  Vamos Outdoors Project began their mission of “building community through connection to the land and access to the outdoors.” What, on the surface, appears to be a traditional sports program is also deeply committed to addressing the mental health and resource needs of migrant youth and their families.  “All the programs, outdoor and in the classroom, are working towards the goal of … [ ]

Play is for everyone with Greentrike

Be inquisitive. Be about community. Truly. Let youth not only be a voice, but an active contributor for the programs they want to be a part of.  These are just a few takeaways from my conversation with Fahren Johnson,  Director of Strategic Initiatives at Greentrike in Tacoma. Greentrike is an organization that “honors children and youth and champions play.” Beginning as the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, Greentrike has become a county-wide advocacy and education organization—one that believes playful experiences are essential for learning, joy, and a thriving community. Fahren emphasized that accessibility is key to their work. The organization is … [ ]

What does it mean to be of a place?

Washington is renowned for its natural beauty, from the stoic Cascades and the stillness of the Hoh Rain Forest to the roaring Columbia River. CultureSeed nurtures a sense of belonging for youth in southwestern Washington amongst the beauty and vastness of the surrounding nature. Their mission is to “provide year-round connection to nature, self, and others, for our underserved* youth and communities to thrive.”  The organization is located in the rural town of White Salmon where the population is less than 3,000. CultureSeed is committed to long-term relationship building with the youth in their community.  Their cohorts are groups of … [ ]

Best starts and best practices—how 2020 highlighted the importance of out-of-school time

In February 2020, the Best Starts for Kids Out-of-School Time Initiative (BSK OST) was heading into its final year of implementation. Then COVID hit, and communities across King County (and the world) were left scrambling to support each other through unimaginable challenges. Youth development workers navigated alarming funding cuts, rapidly changing safety protocols, school closures and the creation of virtual learning strategies, and the profound trauma their youth, families, and staff teams experience. A spotlight is now on the unique and vital role our field plays within the landscape of our communities—it’s never been more apparent how much our work … [ ]

Seattle CARES—creating and becoming superheroes

Seattle CARES is more than mentoring. The organization invests not only in the youth they work with, but also their families. Their mission is to secure and transform the lives of Black children by inspiring, recruiting, and mobilizing masses of caring Black men and women to mentor and nourish them. Their programs respect the voices of the students, adults, parents and guardians they serve, and reflect the needs and wishes of the community. The pandemic highlighted an increasing need for wrap-around support. Seattle CARES took only three weeks to reassess how they would adapt their programs virtually. Immediately following, they … [ ]

Cascade Middle School students become wellness ambassadors

Students and teachers were settling into their seats in the gym of Cascade Middle School in Auburn, where the statement, “Today is going to be awesome,” shone bright on the projector screen. It was a bold claim, considering it was nine in the morning on a chilly Saturday in February. The principal of Cascade, Megan McGroarty, welcomed the student leaders and teachers from her school, as well as school staff from across the district and youth development staff from Neighborhood House. They had all gathered to learn from Generation Wellness, an organization dedicated to fostering thriving schools by focusing on well-being. This … [ ]