Refugee Education & Adventure CHallenge (REACH)
REACH recruits at-risk refugee adolescents who have escaped violence in their home countries and arrived to the U.S. within the last 5 years. REACH helps integrate newcomers into the social fabric of the areas in which they are being resettled. Our programs focus on developing social capital, which helps shift the marginal status that is often held by refugee youth and their families. REACH provides refugee youth & their families with experiential learning opportunities focused on STEAM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, & Math) education and adventure sports. Our mission is to inspire leadership, academic success, and connections among refugee youth through active dynamic learning outside the traditional classroom. Short-term objectives are to build leadership skills; enhance outdoor experience; reduce youth isolation; expand family activities; build practical STEAM skills; & provide career development.
REACH is unique in its focus on breaking down social, economic, & place-based barriers with experiential learning & adventure therapy methods. Our vision is to build a sense of space & learning through an engaged network of refugee youth, their families, and adult mentors. REACH program participants focus on gaining skills in English language proficiency, interpersonal dynamics, teambuilding, leadership, STEAM education (i.e., living organisms, stream ecology, nature photography, urban habitats, sustainable cities), service learning, & outdoor adventure sports like paddling, biking, hiking, climbing, cross-country skiing, snow tubing, ice skating, & camping. In the past 2 summers, we engaged 60 refugee boys in Summer Adventure Camps including: day camp sessions with kayaking, climbing, hiking, forest restoration work, & team building; overnight camping trips to local state parks; & family picnics/award ceremonies. Currently, REACH has no paid staff and is run entirely through volunteer efforts and private donations.
Funded by Chicago, IL (November 2017)