What might not be as easy for you to see is how your support is making people feel on the inside and how you are helping to broaden horizons and change lives. I am so fortunate to experience life changing moments daily.
Guest blogger Carlos Manriquez is one of the Environmental Educators at our Menomonee Valley branch.
Recently on a canoeing experience at Washington Park with one of our NEEP partner schools, I was lucky enough to share this transformational experience with a student…
During a beautiful fall day, a 7th grade class was introduced to canoeing, many for the first time. There was a general sense of excitement and nervousness, along with some fear. As the first students successfully got on the water, each student began to see their peers doing fine, not falling, but laughing and enjoying themselves. Nervousness and fear morphed into pure excitement.
I was paired with one student with special needs who was unable to easily paddle. I remember him smiling and patiently waiting until everyone else was on the water. Once it was his turn, he had a very confident sense of his physical abilities and limitations, which I thought was such a powerful state of being at his age. He apologized to me for not being able to help as much as he wanted to and my heart skipped a beat. I reassured him that he was helping more than enough with his positive attitude, which was more nurturing than any physical help.
As we continued to canoe, he was super excited. It was truly an honor to be part of his discovery of this newly found love for water. As a team, we decided to go into the cattails. They were so magnificent, green and tall. The goal was to lose the fear of “crashing” as we dove into the green space. He said “This is so cool! It’s like we are exploradores (in Spanish) and we are discovering new land!” I was so thankful for his words and for sharing that experience with him.
This story is one of so many that illustrate how, with your help, the Urban Ecology Center fosters feelings of joy and inspiration in children and adults. One small adventure has the ability to connect us to nature, each other and ourselves. Your support is vital to the success of all of our programs which reach thousands of children and adults each year.
Please consider a gift to support this important work. With your help, we can continue to bring so much life to our community.