Local nonprofit hosting James River Park hike to support low income youth, get kids outside

Local nonprofit hosting James River Park hike to support low income youth, get kids outside

The James River Park System has become a main Richmond attraction, boasting some of the best urban trails in the country. However, many of the students served by Blue Sky Fund have never even seen the river despite living within a few miles.

Blue Sky Fund will bring over 400 participants together to hike along the James River on October 26th for the ​Dominion Energy Hike For Kids​ event with a goal of raising $50,000 to directly support programs that provide transformational experiences in nature for over 3,000 Richmond students from low-income neighborhoods.

The James River Park System has become a main Richmond attraction, boasting some of the best urban trails in the country. However, many of the students served by Blue Sky Fund have never even seen the river despite living within a few miles. For the event, hikers will enjoy the James River with a 3-, 8- or 14-mile loop, departing from the Virginia War Memorial and returning to a family-friendly post-hike celebration with food, live music, and lawn games. Väsen Brewing Company is collaborating with Blue Sky Fund to create an exclusive beer for the month of October that will be featured at the event, with a portion of all sales benefitting the organization.

“We are privileged to support such a worthwhile cause,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, President of the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. “Blue Sky Fund makes a meaningful impact in such a unique and important way for many kids across the Richmond community.”

Online registration​ is now live for the event. Event participants can hike up their support in getting Richmond’s youth outside by recruiting colleagues to participate as a corporate team or volunteering to individually raise funds and spread the word about Blue Sky Fund programs in their community, earning outdoor gear prizes along the way.

The hike is Blue Sky Fund’s biggest fundraising event of the year, with a goal of raising $50,000, a 42% growth over last year’s event. These funds are essential to the organization expanding its core program from eight to 14 Richmond City Public Schools during the 2019-2020 school year. Last year, Hike For Kids raised $35,000 to provide outdoor education programming to almost 2,000 students across Richmond during the 2018-2019 school year.

“We love Blue Sky because it gives our students opportunities to get out to places that they’ve never experienced before. I absolutely love going to Pony Pasture, because the kids get the chance to actually get on the river bank, do a little exploring in the water, take nature hikes – they get a feel for the James River and how mighty it is,” said Tracey Smith, a Chimborazo Elementary School Teacher.

Studies reveal that children are spending half as much time outside today as they did 20 years ago, with just four to seven minutes a day playing freely outside. The outdoors should be a part of every child’s life, as time spent in nature is proven to support positive youth development for urban at-risk children with enhanced cooperation and conflict resolution skills, and increases in self-esteem, problem-solving, and motivation to learn.

“My favorite outdoor activity is hiking by the river, I love going down to Belle Isle and rock hopping and such. I just like being outside and love the way the river sounds. Nature makes me feel so much more relaxed and I become the best version of myself,” said Hannah, a graduate of Blue Sky’s Outdoor Leadership Institute.

Participants can register online here.

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