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Environmental Equity Takes Center Stage

The vast amount of parks and green space within San Diego County is one of the extraordinary features that sets the region apart from the rest of the U.S.

According to The San Diego Foundation Parks for Everyone report, nearly 50 percent of the region is classified as green space – 10 acres of park space per 1,000 residents, as outlined by the National Recreation and Parks Association.

However, green space is disproportionately distributed across the region. While many cities are home to numerous parks and open space, others barely have any at all.

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Heat MapThe heat map on the right breaks down this green equity gap. By looking at the pockets of red, it’s easy to see which communities suffer the most.

Families and young people, particularly those in low-income neighborhoods, have limited or no access to one of San Diego’s most cherished resources – nature. This lack of access not only inhibits individuals from experiencing the outdoors, but has long term impacts on economic growth and the health of residents, particularly youth.

Research from the Nature Conservancy shows that providing youth with opportunities to experience nature can help relieve stress, fight obesity, strengthen environmental stewardship and put students on a better pathway to success later in life.

For proof, just ask professional athlete and snowboarder Ryan Hudson, one of the speakers at The San Diego Foundation Center for Civic Engagement upcoming event, Weaving Movements: Love For The Land.

As a child growing up in extreme poverty, Ryan experienced firsthand how lack of opportunity can put people at a severe disadvantage. “From the moment I was introduced to Chris Rutgers and Outdoor Outreach, my life changed,” Ryan explains in a video produced by The North Face.

Thanks to Outdoor Outreach, an organization that connects youth to the transformative power of the outdoors, Ryan learned how to snowboard and gained a greater appreciation for everything nature offers.

Today, thanks to those experiences early on, Ryan has become a successful snowboarder, represents Vans and Jones Snowboards, and has served as an Ambassador for The North Face.

And Outdoor Outreach isn’t the only organization solving the environmental equity gap. In addition to hearing Ryan and Outdoor Outreach’s story on October 5 at Daley Ranch House in Escondido, attendees will learn about what other organizations, such as the Dolores Huerta Foundation, are doing to support California youth.

Camila Chávez, niece of Cesar E. Chavez and Co-founder and Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, will take the stage with Ryan and other environmental leaders to talk about her efforts to empower children to get outside. Through programs such as community gardens, bike share programs and healthy living programs, the Foundation is providing unique opportunities that increase access to the outdoors for at-risk youth.

The October 5 event is part of the Weaving Movements public event series, which champions civic engagement and improves quality of life by bringing our San Diego community together to build regional awareness about economic opportunity, environmental access, recidivism reduction and the power of voting. Inspired in part by the work of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, film, art, music and conversation illustrates Huerta’s legacy and teaches us about how movements are made and how they shape our nation, region and lives.

Will we see you on October 5?

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How does your organization promote San Diego’s beautiful outdoors for our youth? Let us know in the comments below!

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