Happy Feel Good Friday! Today we’re going get outside with Outdoor Afro.
Founded in 2009 by Rue Mapp and headquartered in Oakland, CA, the mission of Outdoor Afro is “to celebrate and inspire Black connections and leadership in nature.” The work they do is designed “to disrupt the false perception that Black People do not have a relationship with nature.”
How does Outdoor Afro foster these connections? With help from over 100 passionate, volunteer leaders. Every year these leaders are required to attend a training event to receive ongoing education. Training topics include risk management, policy and storytelling interpretation. These volunteer leaders then create and guide monthly trips to foster collaboration and strengthen people’s connections with the outdoors. Each year more than 40,000 people join a trip with Outdoor Afro!
With locations in 56 cities around the country, the recreational activities available are quite varied. Examples include hiking, birding, fishing, kayaking, and gardening. In 2022, the focus is on swimming. Black children ages 5-19 are six times more likely to drown in swimming pools than white children so Outdoor Afro has a goal to teach 100,000 Black children to swim. They’ll do this by offering scholarships for swimming lessons, aka swimmerships. Learn more in this 30-second video.
For Black History Month, Outdoor Afro is encouraging Black people to share photos of their outdoor adventures on social media using the hashtag #BlackHistoryOutdoors. In 2020, Oprah joined Outdoor Afro to hike in the redwoods at Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland! If you’d like to join an adventure, use this link to find a group near you. As they explain on their website, “anyone who supports our mission is welcome to attend our events. You don’t have to have an afro, to be part of Outdoor Afro.”
You don’t have to have an afro to support Outdoor Afro either. Make a donation, shop for merch, and help amplify their message on social media. Like their Facebook pageand follow them on Twitter @OutdoorAfro and Instagram @outdoorafro #OutdoorAfro.