Tuesdays with Laura: Giving Back–Common Ground High School

It is all about giving back to the community that welcomes us and supports us every day.   Trailblazer teamed up with Columbia Sportswear through the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance to support the Belay Program and benefit Common Ground High school in West Rock. Trailblazer supported Common Ground's application for a $5000 grant offered by the Belay Program and once selected, matched the initial grant, providing Common Ground with a total of $10,000 and the chance to significantly expand their Kids Unplugged and West Rock Rangers after-school programs. "We are so glad to have the resources to expand [these programs]. We believe that every kid--including every city kid--deserves a chance for outdoor adventures," said Rebecca Holcombe, the community programs director. "The research says pretty clearly that kids that get opportunities to explore the natural world  are healthier, grow into leaders, are less likely to get into trouble and even do better on standardized tests." The West Rock Rangers Program (grades5-8) gives kids the chance to get outside and develop new outdoor-related skills. They get to hike, map trails, learn to use a compass, keep a trail journal and much more. Through Kids Unplugged, city kids (grades k-4) explore West Rock State Park, help care for Common Ground's gardens and farm animals, make art form recycled materials and and cook healthy foods from the garden. According to Common ground, for many participants this program is their first exposure to a sustained connection with nature. These two programs are exactly what the Grassroots Outdoors Alliance is about, and the reason why Trailblazer and Columbia are part of it. The Grassroots Outdoors Alliance brings together independent outdoor retailers and outdoor companies, hoping to promote and protect the experience of outdoor enthusiasts at a local, national and global level. The belay program, by Columbia Sportswear, is part of the GOA effort and provides direct support to local conservation projects that promote community building and volunteering. The program is designed to provide the basic necessities to safeguard local projects that improve and protect the environment. This is why Trailblazer was more than happy to participate and support it; this kind of effort is exactly what we stand for. By surveying parents, Common Ground found that after participating in Kids Unplugged there was a 22% increase in the number of children choosing to play outside and a 51% increase in the number of childen choosing to try new healthy foods. "Nearly 9 in 10 parents said their children adopted environmentally friendly behaviors or demonstrated new environmental knowledge at home after participating in the program," reported Common Ground. This is why is so important to continue to promote the outdoor experience and to support efforts like Common Ground's and programs like Kids Unplugged. We are happy to share the good news with you and hope that you join us in the mission to protect our environment and help the new generations understand the importance of such mission.  

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