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Nature Helps Refugee Youth Heal

Time spent enjoying nature can be deeply therapeutic, and the refugee youth who joined their mentors this month for an ecotherapy-inspired evening outdoors can attest to that. 

Exodus’ Youth Program hosts an event each month for youth and their volunteer mentors, collaborating with our Mental Wellness Program at least once per year to plan outings like this month’s field trip to the 100 Acres Nature Park at Newfields.

The youth walked through the park with their mentors while enjoying nature, taking in the art, and chatting about how mental health plays a role in everyone’s life. Director of Extended Services and licensed clinical social worker Chelsea Davey helped spark reflection and conversation with questions throughout the evening. Her inspiration in helping to plan the event was the important role nature played in people’s lives before they came to the US, and how to bridge the gap now that they are here. The event culminated at the park’s 35-acre lake, where the youth had fun splashing in the water and laughing together. 

One of the young refugee participants shared that she likes to go outside because it clears her mind, and she can enjoy the outdoors with her friends. A mentor present at the event echoed that sentiment:

“It was incredible seeing my mentee engage with the art pieces and take pictures of the beautiful scenery. The event was really fun and I’m so happy my mentee was able to engage with other mentees. I think she really needed that.”

Helping refugee youth build meaningful connections as they integrate into a new culture is one of the goals of the Youth Program, which has served more than 500 refugee youth since its creation in 2015. Volunteer mentors are a core part of our Youth Program, and we are grateful for all who spend valuable time with young refugees. You can find out more about being a youth mentor and other volunteer opportunities on our volunteer page