Originally published on danesbodyshop.com 8.7.2014.
Why do we lift, run, jump, and sweat? To look good or feel good, maybe, but perhaps there’s another reason we get out of bed before 5am, or put in our time after a hard day’s work. Maybe we do what we do to overcome mental and physical barriers. How does it feel to find a new max or run a quicker mile? Amazing. Sometimes confronting the obstacles we put in front of you at the Shop make the insurmountable seem, as Coach Matthew would say, “hard but doable.” And there’s nothing better than thinking to yourself, “That was f’n hard, but, darn it, I did it!”
As you know, one element of our Community Gains project involves donating our time and resources toward a cause we believe in. We want to spread that feeling of “I did it!” to the community at-large, especially to those who may not have the same resources at their disposal. That’s why we’ve started a partnership with Explore Austin, a local youth leadership, mentoring, and adventure nonprofit.
Explore Austin was first established in 2006 and serves youth in underserved communities from the 6th grade until the 12th grade, and beyond. The program itself spans those six years, and provides Explorers—their students—with mentorship through the ACES framework. This framework encourages Explorers to be action-oriented, courageous, excellent teammates, and strong communicators. ACES!
The mentorship Explore Austin offers can be an invaluable asset to children from lower-income households. Children with this background commonly report the presence of fewer caring adults than their higher-income peers. The presence of just one adult mentor can make a huge difference when it comes to success and failure. Of Explore Austin’s 160+ Explorers, roughly 98% are of Latino heritage and come from single-parent households. Explorers come from KIPP schools, a public charter school program regarded for its dedication to serving children from underserved communities and preparing them for “success in college and life.”
Throughout their commitment to the Explore Austin program, Explorers participate in monthly Saturday Challenges, teaching them the skills that will culminate with a weeklong Summer Wilderness Trips. These trips span the backcountry of not only Texas, but Arkansas, Colorado, and beyond! The Explore Austin map keeps growing and growing.
But does Explore Austin work? We’ll let the statistics do the talking. In 2013 alone, Explore Austin’s 65 mentors provided over 36,000 hours of mentoring for their 180 Explorers; hiked, biked, or paddled over 6,500 miles; and graduated their second six-year class of 15 Explorers—all of whom were accepted into a four-year college!
“I accomplished something I never thought possible, and I know now to never doubt myself again because I’m capable of anything,” says Isabela, an Explorer featured on the Explore Austin website. That encapsulates the spirit of our partnership with Explore Austin, and is precisely why we do what we do.
To learn more about Explore Austin, visit www.exploreaustin.org.
In celebration of our partnership with Explore Austin, we’re hosting the F’nGo F’nGive Workout Saturday, August 16. The event will be held at the South Entrance of Barton Springs just off of Robert E. Lee Road. A suggested donation of $10 and up will get you a workout and get you into Barton Springs for free!