Roanoke Parks and Recreation and Roanoke Outside Foundation have been awarded $5,000 and $8,000 in grant funds from Keen and The North Face respectively to launch the new Outdoor Adventure Club (OAC). This new program will focus on underserved youths in the City of Roanoke, making outdoor recreation more accessible regardless of socioeconomic background. The program is working to eliminate barriers to the outdoors for urban youth and to foster a life-long engagement with nature, stewardship, and community.
The Outdoor Adventure Club will work with youth ages 11-13 and builds off of the Outdoor Explorer Program which works with children ages 8-10. The Outdoor Explorer Program began in 2017 and provides children in underserved communities access to the outdoors through activities and mentorship in a collaborative program sponsored by the Roanoke Outside Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia (BBBS), and Roanoke Parks and Recreation.
The Outdoor Adventure Club is a continuation of that program, serving children ages 11-13. This 12-month program will offer one-on-one mentoring, as well as transportation, instruction, and appropriate gear at no cost to participants. Activities will include rock climbing, backpacking, skiing, canoeing, snowshoeing, caving, and mountain biking. The program will start with 10 participants plus mentors. BBBS will select participants from a pool of applicants.
“Our department recognized the need to reach a group that we weren’t currently serving. After witnessing the success of the Outdoor Explorer Program, the OAC seemed like the next logical step,” Matt Allenbaugh, Outdoor Recreation Supervisor, said. “Thankfully, The North Face and Keen felt the same way and have given us the opportunity to expose these kids to the wonderful outdoor resources our community offers.”
“There are an obvious needs and benefits to providing outdoor opportunities for all children,” said Pete Eshelman, director of the Roanoke Outside Foundation. “We are extremely excited about expanding our youth initiatives to reach more kids and the value that comes from a partnership with great outdoor companies such as The North Face and Keen.”
The program kicks off on Sept. 28 with a free public showing of An American Ascent at Market Square. This film highlights the first all-African-American ascent of Denali. The department invites the public to attend this culturally significant film.
“This film highlighting the major achievements of an underrepresented population is the perfect way to kick off the OAC and emphasize the importance of outdoor access to all,” Allenbaugh said.
About Roanoke Parks and Recreation
The City of Roanoke’s Department of Parks and Recreation is a full-service, nationally accredited municipal agency that maintains nearly 14,000 acres of public land and provides the Roanoke Valley with two thousand recreational opportunities each year. With 60 parks, more than 90 miles of greenways and trails, five plazas, two outdoor swimming pools and seven recreation centers, Roanoke Parks and Recreation currently employees 62 full-time employees and roughly 158 part-time and seasonal employees.
For media inquiries, please contact Stephanie Long, Roanoke Parks and Recreation Marketing Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-853-5847.
About Roanoke Outside Foundation
Started as an initiative by the Roanoke Regional Partnership to leverage natural assets to attract investment and talent, Roanoke Outside became a 501(c)3 charitable organization in 2013. With a mission of connecting people outdoors, improving access to the outdoors, and making outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship a core component of our community’s lifestyle, the Roanoke Outside Foundation has changed Roanoke’s community narrative to one that places a high value on quality of life. From building river access points to organizing signature events like the Blue Ridge Marathon and GO Outside Festival, Roanoke Outside is committed to making the Roanoke Region a better place to live, work, and play.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
For more than 60 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters live in single-parent and low-income families, or households where a parent is incarcerated. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”). Providing a system of ongoing evaluation and support, Big Brothers Big Sisters is proven by independent studies to help families by improving the odds that Littles will perform better in school and avoid violence and illegal activities, and have stronger relationships with their parents and others. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia serves over 500 children in our community.
Inspired by a love of the outdoors, KEEN Inc. is dedicated to creating quality products that support the lifestyles and outdoor adventures of active people around the world.
About The North Face
The North Face® fundamental mission remains unchanged since 1966: Provide the best gear for its athletes and the modern day explorer, support the preservation of the outdoors, and inspire a global movement of exploration.