Fashion & Footwear June 13th, 2018

How You (And This Shoe) Can Help At-Risk Teens

A kind word. A handwritten note. Plogging on a nearby trail.

The great thing about good deeds is anyone can do them at any time. Performing acts of kindness, random or otherwise, creates positivity in your life and for those around you.

But giving back isn’t just limited to individuals. Businesses and brands do it, too.

Toms, the One for One® company, helps provide footwear and prescription glasses to persons in need for each product sold. Similarly, United By Blue reinvests their own time, energy and efforts into watershed or ocean cleanups with each purchase. And not to be outdone, the sale of one pair of Freewaters provides clean drinking water for one individual for an entire year.

Portland-based Columbia Sportswear is also known for supporting organizations that share their passion for the outdoors.

One such nonprofit is Big City Mountaineers (BCM). Columbia has helped them through volunteerism, humanitarian support and grant funding, providing over $75,000 in cash and product donations since 2015. And like Columbia, BCM shares the belief that outdoor education and conservation efforts ensure everyone will be able to enjoy the outdoors for generations to come.

“BCM is a model program for not only getting urban young people outdoors but also providing the skills and knowledge, so they continue to go outdoors,” says Adam Craig, Columbia’s Director of U.S. Sales and a board of director for BCM. “We simply hope to amplify and support this incredible programming that instills critical life skills in under-resourced youth.”

Throughout June, the formidable outdoor brand is donating $5 for every pair of Columbia Redmonds sold on Zappos.com, up to $10,000, to BCM and used to support general programming.

Since 1989, BCM transforms the lives of underserved teenagers, aged 13 to 18, through wilderness mentoring expeditions that instill critical life skills. They partner with community-based youth organizations and caring adult volunteers who act as mentors to help young people realize their potential.

Technology is turning more and more children into couch potatoes. A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the average 8-year-old to 18-year-old spends more than 53 hours a week using “entertainment media.”

At the core of the BCM program is a five-day backpacking or canoe expedition in which adults and teens work together, cultivating weeklong and lifelong relationships. Entertainment media is left on the couch.

Madi Hyde, a Global Logistics Analyst at Columbia, felt the call of the wild when she heard about BCM through a Columbia fundraising event in Portland.

“They had some people, youth and leaders, speak about their experience and their words really inspired me to apply and volunteer,” she said.

Hyde, along with four adult women volunteers and five teenage girls, ventured into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness located in the Central Cascades of Washington. By day they hiked. By night they played games and activities and bonded around the campfire.

“There is no other place than nature to make you feel small, and not in a bad way. I think the outdoors helps put perspective on your daily life,” recalls Hyde. “I also think the outdoors forces you to be a bit more self-sufficient because there are a lot of times you need to be responsible for yourself and others.”

BCM doesn’t throw mentors into the wilderness without proper training and prepping. An all-day clinic teaches the adults mentoring techniques, games, activities and specific ways to interact with the teens.

“It was much harder than I imagined but in a good way,” says Hyde. “Having five teens who are brand new to everything with the outdoors makes things take quite a bit longer, be it setting up camp, cooking dinner, and even the actual hiking. However, it was a good reminder to me to slow down and appreciate all of these moments.”

“The outdoors has taught me a lot about myself. It’s my place to disconnect and reflect; it’s therapeutic. It’s also space for me to challenge myself and set physical goals.”

  • Madi Hyde, Big City Mountaineer volunteer

Jim Kern, the founder of Big City Mountaineers, points out that it’s not just the teens who learn at the end of the program. The volunteers do as well.

“This turns out to be a very educational and even emotional experience for the adults,” says Kern. “In getting to know kids from a class of society that they’ve never rubbed elbows with before, and getting to know them well, it’s enriching, and it’s expanding, and it’s wrenching.”

BCM aims at improving integrity, self-esteem, responsibility, decision-making and communication skills to an estimated 1,000 youths annually. BCM has enhanced the lives of teens by reducing school dropout rates, violence and drug use.

It’s a positive trend Columbia wants to see continue.

For more than 70 years, Columbia is rooted in the outdoors and committed to quality footwear and clothing. They’re a company that understands the importance of melding form and function into a product that's just at home in the city as it would be in the mountains.

For biking, paddling, camping or just getting outside for some ecotherapy, the Redmond is an excellent gateway shoe to reconnect with nature. It offers unmatched durability, protection and comfort for whatever adventure is in front of you.

So whether you’re a weekend hiker, backcountry adventurer or an aspiring BCM volunteer, discover the dozens of Redmond styles available. Not only will you find superior support and agility control in each pair, but you'll also be doing your part in helping a great cause.

After all, how often can you buy an amazing pair of shoes for yourself while helping introduce a young person to a lifetime of outdoor adventure?

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