Watercolors and Waterways: Young leader takes on the disconnect between her community and the outdoors

August 22, 2016

Disconnected - watercolor by Cristal

If you asked Cristal about Sand Creek a year or two ago, she wouldn’t have been able to tell you too much about it. After visiting Sand Creek and the Sand Creek Regional Greenway with the Keystone Club at her local Boys & Girls Club and our Next Generation Partners program she learned about it’s history, uses, and threats.

This summer, Cristal applied to participate in the 2016 Natural Leaders Colorado Legacy Camp and shared her experience along Sand Creek in the creative expression portion of her application. Cristal painted a water color and wrote a short essay about the disconnect between the creek and the Greenway and community members who do not know about its natural and recreational resources. Cristal urged people to be more aware and appreciative of our environment.

Natural Leaders Legacy Camp is a collaboration between the Natural Leaders Network, an initiative of the Children and Nature Network, and Great Outdoors Colorado’s Inspire Initiative, a five-year strategy aimed at inspiring Coloradans, particularly kids, to appreciate, enjoy and take care of our great outdoors.

Through GOCO’s Inspire Initiative, we partnered with 12 other nonprofits and federal, state, and local agencies to form the Go Wild Northeast Metro Coalition in 2014. Last year, GOCO recognized our coalition as a pilot community and we were awarded a planning grant to design places, programs and pathways to connect youth with the outdoors in ways that reflect the needs and interests of the northeast metro region. After a year of hard work and generous and enthusiastic feedback from our community, we are well on our way and will be submitting our implementation grant in late October.

The success and sustainability of those places, programs, and pathways depends on leadership from young people, like Cristal, who are passionate about the outdoors and its value in our community.

Natural Leaders Colorado Legacy Camp participants will further their community organizing knowledge and skills to grow as leaders within GOCO’s Inspire Initiative and the movement to connect children and families’s to nature.

Read Cristal’s creative expression essay.

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Sand Creek Regional Greenway Partnership

About the Greenway

The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is a jewel in the necklace of trails that has made Denver a national model for linked trail systems.

This 14-mile public greenway connects the High Line Canal in Aurora, Colorado with the South Platte River Greenway in Commerce City. Along the way, it passes through northeast Denver and the new Stapleton community.

The Sand Creek Regional Greenway is open every day from dawn until dusk. Runners, walkers, nature viewers, horseback riders, and leashed dogs are encouraged to enjoy the trail. We invite you to become acquainted with our wilderness in the city.

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