Building Community Resilience Through Equitable Outdoor Access

The San Diego Foundation, through the Opening the Outdoors Program and Thrive Outside Initiative, continues to bridge the environmental gap and address disparities so that youth and families can grow, connect and thrive through positive interactions with the outdoors.
The San Diego Foundation, through the Opening the Outdoors Program and Thrive Outside Initiative, continues to bridge the environmental gap and address disparities so that youth and families can grow, connect and thrive through positive interactions with the outdoors.

For the fifth installment of our Enabling Community Solutions webinar series, local experts recently discussed how community-driven efforts can connect, protect, and increase equitable access to nature across the County, especially for San Diegans in underserved and park-deficient communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated systemic inequities and is impacting communities of concern at disproportionately high rates.

The outdoors can provide a space for connection, exploration, growth and peace. Unfortunately, many youth and families in our communities are not able to reap the benefits of the outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of the San Diego region due to lack of access and other equity barriers.

“Outdoor recreation is really more than just a nice-to-have,” shared Lesford Duncan, a featured webinar speaker and Senior Director of Programs at Outdoor Outreach, a nonprofit partner in The Foundation’s Thrive Outside initiative with the mission of connecting youth to the transformative power of the outdoors. “It’s really central and critical to not only our physical health but also to our mental health and well-being.”

Communities that suffer from the greatest gaps in access are those with higher concentrations of under-resourced households, greater racial and ethnic diversity and higher rates of COVID-19 infections. In tThe Foundation’s 2020 Parks for Everyone report, safety, walkability, transportation, cultural inclusion and fees, permits and expenses are identifiednamed as the top equity barriers impacting access to the outdoors in San Diego.

Parks and green spaces can improve quality of life and physical health, and provide venues to bring people together across social, economic and racial divides to build more resilient, socially connected communities.

For the fifth installment of our Enabling Community Solutions webinar series, local experts discuss how community-driven efforts can connect, protect, and increase equitable access to nature across the County, especially for San Diegans in underserved and park-deficient communities.

Building Community Resilience Through Equitable Outdoor Access Swebinar speakers and local experts include:

  • Lesford Duncan, Senior Director of Programs, Outdoor Outreach
  • Courtney Baltiyskyy, Director of Advocacy and Strategic Partnership, YMCA of San Diego County
  • Maria Guadalupe Mendez Arroyo, Leadership Program Graduate, Outdoor Outreach 
  • Heather Rossetti, Manager, Thrive Outside, The San Diego Foundation

Our Senior Director of Donor and Community Engagement Katie Sawyer moderated this informative learning experience. View the webinar and share your thoughts or questions in the comments below.