City Kids exposes DC youth to new environments, offers free summer resource
CLIFTON, Va. — As the community asks how to prevent more D.C. kids from being touched by violence, the group City Kids Wilderness Project offers a free solution that connects them with nature.
Sixth graders can complete the ‘rigorous’ application process, and then they have after school and summer resources for life — that they likely would not have access to.
Osaro Nelson did just that. Now — he’s a senior in high school.
“I just enjoy going outdoors,” Nelson said. “So the new experiences that I get to experience and learn, especially with the same group of kids that I build a bond with throughout my entire high school years.”
One of those new experiences requires a saddle — which the participants get to strap on themselves during their visit to Cloverleaf Equine Center in Clifton, Virginia.
Some of the other activities they get to do are canoeing, whitewater kayaking, backpacking, and rock climbing.
They even have the opportunity to visit Wyoming during the summer.
City Kids has been working with D.C. youth for the last 27 years, serving more than 500 kids in that time span.
Once a student applies and gets accepted, families do not have to pay a dime for any of the activities.
“So for us being able to do something as simple as like horseback riding, which can be upwards of $250 to $300 a rider. So being able to provide that zero cost, no maintenance, no muss, no fuss for our families, for our youth to just say hey, if you’re willing to show up, we’ll do the hard part,” DC Director of Programs, Rodney Fuller said. “So for me, that’s what I love the most. And that’s what I think is the biggest hook of our whole program when it comes to families. Like it’s zero cost, you know, just come interested and available.”
This program is an escape for kids like Donzeal Davis.
“D.C. be crazy,” he said. “People be dying, like kids be dying. It’s just weird and crazy.”
Fuller said the biggest thing is just being an outlet for these young people and giving them something positive to participate in when they’re out of school.
“For me, it’s just the connection. Again, City Kids is a small organization, but we have tentacles like an octopus. And we’re reaching out and we’re connecting as many folks as we can. And we’re seeing successes on a massive level.”
One of those successes is heading to college in the fall. His name is Leon Henderson.
“They taught me a lot of things — how to be more brave, how to step up my comfort zone, how to be open and try new things,” Henderson said. “And I really say that they shaped me to be the person I am today.”
That’s a sentiment Nelson echoes.
“They definitely helped me like find my identity, like, who I want to be as I grow up.”
Right now, they’re enjoying the chance to just be kids.
For more information on the program, click here.