As an organization that centers racial equity in all of our work, we’re keenly aware of the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on communities of color. Due to systemic racism, and the particular ways it plays out in city planning and healthcare, among many other institutions, people of color are becoming infected with and dying from the virus at far higher rates than their white counterparts. As is true in so many catastrophes, the injustices that undergird daily life in this country are being starkly exposed through the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Youth Outside, we advocate for equitable access to the outdoors, in large part because we know that nature heals; that time spent outdoors is essential for our mental and physical health. It’s not just anecdotal evidence that makes this point clear, but scientific research as well. Multiple studies indicate that nature’s benefits are in fact greater for communities who are negatively impacted by structural racism, economic inequity, opportunity gaps, and trauma. Accordingly, we’re taking this moment to amplify a call for increased funding of and support for outdoor opportunities that specifically meet the needs of society’s most vulnerable populations.
Our CEO Kim Moore Bailey recently joined Gail Christopher, Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity, and Tyler Norris, Chief Executive of Well Being Trust, to co-author an article for Grant Makers In Health, entitled “The Urgent Need For Nature During And After COVID-19.” In it, they make the fundamental point that “access to safe, nearby nature must be prioritized as critical public health infrastructure and not just an amenity for a few.” We invite you to read the article, share it with your networks, and stay connected to our work, as we continue growing our programs in the service of an authentically healthy, inclusive, and racially equitable outdoor movement.