by Valerie Welch, AmeriCorps VISTA
Right now, many cities throughout the U.S. are experiencing problems with youth that are indicative of what has now been coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book: Last Child in the Woods, as a “nature deficit disorder.” Making the matter more complicated is the fact that people of color in lower-income urban areas are being disproportionately affected by disappearing recess times and other forms of recreation during their school days.
Trails to Tomorrow is an AmeriCorps VISTA project located at Government Canyon State Natural Area (SNA). AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is a federal program conceived by J.F. Kennedy in 1965 to help eradicate poverty. The focus of this project is to locate youth from the most under represented, economically distressed areas in San Antonio for field trips where they can learn and connect with the State Natural Area; a natural resource area they may not know about.
We have had one successful field day with Wheatley Community School and are anticipating four more during the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year. More dates were planned for earlier this year, however a recurring problem with transportation costs limited some of the schools that were equally interested in coming out to Government Canyon. Project A.C.O.R.N., with the personal direction of Amalia Sollars, has contributed the full amount for two of the four planned field trips. We hope to find grant relief for the upcoming year that would help towards the transportation issue.
We hope that this will build a bridge for the well-being of the youth involved and the future of TPWD. At a minimum, we hope that whomever comes out to Government Canyon will at least take a new, happy or inspirational experience home with them.