Our community’s kids desperately need the chance to go outside and play, heal and learn.
This is the first week of our biggest summer ever. 732 spots for kids to get outdoors, to run, jump, play, learn, and connect. This is YOUR chance to help your community's kids heal. This summer and the coming school year are our chance to help our kids recover from the effects of the pandemic, and we are counting on you to help!
Wildflower reports from Figueroa Mountain filled with shiny orange poppies and purple lupine flowers, even in a dry year. Right now Elderberry blooms in neighborhood parks. Out your own window, on your own walks, what tells you it’s late spring in Santa Barbara? At WYP headquarters, we know it's early June as the phone trills and emails flow in and we launch our biggest summer camp ever.
We look ahead to the fall, the return to school with the huge task of helping kids heal from the traumas of this time AND catch up on learning. And we turn to you, our supporters, with deep gratitude: you kept us afloat during the uncertain early pandemic times. You got us back in action as fast as possible with “in real life” summer camps last summer. And we are counting on you now to build back better for the kids in our community who need your help.
You know as well as we do that we’re not going “back to normal.” Can we count on you to get kids back outdoors, to get kids to go outside and play and heal and learn? Please act now and donate to our “go outside and play, heal and learn” campaign. Your donation is needed by June 25 so we can meet the record-breaking summer camp needs AND make sure we’re ready to keep nature connection a part of healing and learning when it’s time to go back to school.
Let’s face it - the kids are not alright. And it’s not just Covid. California already ranked a dismal 35th nationally in children’s well-being. Public health workers forecast that a children’s mental health crisis could be a next “wave” in this pandemic.
This is where you come in. Our community is pulling together, right now, and together we can head off that wave. The schools are asking us (and many other caring community partners) to help them double down on summer school that includes outdoor time. Our low-income housing partners are welcoming us into their communities so we can meet kids, go outside and walk and bike and play and heal and connect.
Back in April of 2020, in that strange couple of months early in the lockdown when many of our kids didn’t leave their apartments, we found ways to stay connected online. One day one of our 11-year old participants was really struggling. He hadn’t gotten out of bed all day. His parents called his WYP mentor and they decided the boy would be able to keep the camera off and stay in bed, but at least he’d join his WYP group. Fifteen minutes into the meeting, the boy was sitting up, camera on, connecting with his friends. The parent called us in tears, happy tears of relief and gratitude.
It’s thanks to you that we already had that tight-knit group formed for that 11-year old boy: that he had a caring mentor and a small group of kids he could connect with, that he had memories of their shared outdoor adventures that got him laughing and reminded him that good times were behind... and ahead.
Your support = hope. You are part of this community pulling together to prevent the next wave of adverse impacts on our kids. Please take a moment to donate today.
For many, getting kids back outdoors, getting to go outside and play, is on the top of the priority list. In fact, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, announced funding to make sure that all children from babies up to age 18 would have access to outdoor play activities this summer! He said what we already know- that the physical and mental health impacts that children and young people have experienced throughout the pandemic cannot be underestimated.
For WYP, getting kids back outdoors to heal and play and connect is our top priority, too. We’d love to have that kind of generous backing, like Scotland, but here our funding comes 100% from you, our community of individual donors.
Before this pandemic, Santa Barbara was already a place with deep and wide gaps in our community. As we consider the picture of our children before the pandemic, we see big differences in wealth and health and access and learning and recreation and safety. If you’ve been on WYP’s mailing list for a while, you’ll recall that we often write to you at this time of year to talk about summer, and things like the “summer slide” (a name for the summer learning loss that affects lower income students) and the crucial need to get kids outdoors with caring mentors. And we’re writing to you about that again, but this time the problem with kids spending too much time indoors and on screens has reached crisis levels.
You can help. With your support, we’ll have our biggest summer camp ever (though still not big enough to get to all the kids who want to be with us!), meeting kids from West Goleta down to Carpinteria. We’ll return to our Bridge to Nature schools in the fall, using those outdoor excursions to support our kids’ health, well-being and learning. And we’ll keep the new relationships that came out of Covid- the housing partners where we get to meet kids at home, the new chance to “Bike to Nature.” We’ll end up serving more than 1200 kids this year, and most of them will need scholarships. That’s why we need to raise $125,000 for this summer from you- our family of supporters.
WYP isn’t the whole solution. There’s work to do for all of us as a community. Thinking about emerging from the pandemic has to include thinking about the challenges we faced together before it began. But we know you share that feeling, that need to “do something.” Or many somethings! And so, we hope you’ll join us in this work.
Please donate today. Get kids outdoors, reconnected with the natural world, with each other, with their caring mentors. It will help them heal and learn.
And then, after you’ve donated, we hope you’ll take the time to go outside and play yourself- to go in search of a still-blooming flower, the places where the creeks are still flowing, or a new place nearby where you might see a bird you have never seen before.