February 8, 2017  |  

Encouraging a Love of Nature

The YMCA of the USA is part of a collaborative effort to put First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Outside” initiative into action. The Y is working with the National League of Cities and the Department of the Interior nationally; and many grassroots organizations locally, to encourage a greater connection to nature in young people. Many of the efforts are diverse, fun and innovative. They are cleaning beaches in San Diego, planting gardens in Houston, paddling rivers in Minneapolis and dissecting invasive lionfish in Miami.

The YMCA of San Diego is one of fifty-one cities focused on being a ‘connecting agency’. In the words of  Program Director Courtney Baltiyskyy: “Let’s Move! Outside San Diego is an initiative bringing our communities together to innovate the pathways for children to enjoy nature while Playing, Learning, Serving and Working in San Diego County.”

Enjoying nature and serving the community with the YMCA of San Diego

The YMCA of San Diego works closely with organizations like Outdoor Outreach, which provides young people with opportunities to experience the positive behavioral changes that come with being outdoors: the Fish and Wildlife Service which is focused on environmental stewardship and responsibility; I Love Clean San Diego which leads and educates the community on conservation issues and WildCoast which conserves coastal and marine ecosystems and wildlife.

The Y is one of the largest charitable organizations in San Diego County and so is a perfect, well-respected convener, allowing for cross-agency sharing of ideas. It also serves children, adults and families and so can help steer every age group towards a variety of initiatives organized or overseen by partners. It does this specifically through the Let’s Move initiative, but also through other traditional programs. For example, Teen Leadership initiatives at its Resident Camp branches, SURF and Marston focus on Environmental Stewardship, which educate and involve young people and provide a strong pool of volunteers and advocates for other community environmental agencies to reach out to and engage.

                                         Having fun outdoors in San Diego

At the end of the day most organizations focused on the environment, whether they are not-for-profit, for-profit or governmental agencies, want the same thing. They want young and old alike to enjoy, respect and help sustain our natural world. The Y is proud to be playing its part locally, nationally and globally; and playing its part as a member of a wider community of nature lovers.


Mike Roberts
Mike Roberts
There are few professions where you get to make a real difference, impacting individuals, families and communities on a global scale. The YMCA has given me so many opportunities - organizing soccer camps in Haiti, teen leaders programs in Zimbabwe, helping to develop cancer survivor exercise opportunities in America. The Y is so much more.

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