Community Partnership Spotlight: Congolese Integration Network
Last updated: April 28, 2021, at 7:24 a.m. PT
Originally published: April 28, 2021, at 7:24 a.m. PT
The YMCA of Greater Seattle’s BOLD & GOLD (Boys & Girls Outdoor Leadership Development) program is honored to partner with the Congolese Integration Network (CIN), a non-profit focused on helping Congolese immigrants and refugees to find community, support, and resources during their transition to the United States. The Y’s mission to develop programs and opportunities that create equity, justice, and diversity across the community, and in the outdoors, is often realized through strong community partnerships.
This partnership began with a day snowshoe excursion in 2019 and expand to a series of single-day hikes, rock climbing, and snowshoeing. Last September, eight young adult members of CIN, led by Seattle BOLD & GOLD instructors, hiked the section of Washington coast known as the Ozette Triangle, in Olympic National Park. This five-day backpacking trip was quite rainy – a true Northwest experience.
BOLD & GOLD is committed to reducing and removing barriers that prevent people, especially communities of color and populations new to outdoor recreation, from experiencing the whole-person health benefits of nature. Beyond financial barriers, the Y works with partners and families to build awareness of the transformative power of time outdoors and works together to develop trips that meet groups’ needs.
With over 20 years of leading in the field of outdoor education aimed at facilitating transformative programs, BOLD & GOLD collaborates with schools and non-profits to build custom outdoor experiences designed to meet their unique goals. Complete with technical expertise, an extensive gear and clothing lending library, risk management systems, and insurance to execute these high-quality experiences, BOLD & GOLD’s partnership with CIN is providing immigrant and refugee young adults incredible outdoor opportunities.
“I thought this experience would just be spending time outdoors, but it was much more about developing the confidence and skills to help them integrate into a new life here in Seattle. I saw an incredible transformation as they opened up to each other and started to see a path forward and actually set goals for their future.” - Providence Kamana, CIN Youth Program Director
Additionally, CIN received the Y’s Camping and Outdoor Leadership branch’s Diversity in the Outdoors Award providing financial aid to cover 90% of tuition costs, transportation, and all the necessary outdoor clothing, gear, and food for the expedition. As BOLD & GOLD continues to deepen its relationship with CIN, the YMCA of Greater Seattle looks forward to expanding this backpacking opportunity for middle and high school aged youth to participate during their summer wilderness programs.
Learn more about the Congolese Integration Network