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Vashon Wilderness Program
“Here is this vast, savage, howling mother of ours, Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard; and yet we are so early weaned from her breast to society, to that culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man.”
--Henry David Thoreau
The Vashon Wilderness Program (VWP) began in 2007 with the desire to cultivate relationships between self, community and the natural world. Scholarships were immediately offered to all interested youth, ages 4-17, so that no child would be excluded.
VWP’s programs highlight nature as our teacher. Their research shows that teaching children in nature about nature is crucial to developing the whole child. Children grow inwardly, recognizing their own value as they learn to appreciate and study the great outdoors.
Kelly Ann Brown Foundation received this wonderful testimony from a VWP mom:
“Kelly’s value of creative education is shared by many, including my own family. The Vashon Wilderness Program has been a cornerstone of our creative educational journey. My son has participated in this nature-immersion program for three years. An introvert, he shies away from most large group experiences, as he feels lost or even invisible. He has never attended traditional school, yet each week he loves going to the Vashon Wilderness Program. There, he experiences the comfort of core routines that connect him to the land, the feeling of true mentorship from the staff, and a sense of pride and confidence as he builds his naturalist abilities and social skills. Nowhere else does he feel so confident, capable and supported for being himself and valued for who he is. Through my son, I have experienced the power of VWP’s unique educational model. His experiences have influenced our entire family. We love the community seasonal celebrations where we sing, express gratitude, and deepen our understanding of the natural world. I joined the Board of Directors last year to help ensure that VWP remains successful now and in the future.”
With the expertise and kindness of VWP’s skilled mentors, children play sensory awareness games, learn vital survival skills, enjoy guided nature hikes, and learn and share the art of storytelling. According to VWP: “Outdoor education is shown to increase memory and stimulate the brain’s capacity for further learning, as well as increase creativity, flexibility, cooperation, self-awareness, stress reduction, and happiness.”
540 students from Vashon Island and the Greater Seattle area have participated in the Vashon Wilderness Program to date. New programs are being created that will include a new 2-day a week program for 4- to-6-year-olds in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, a moderate to low income neighborhood in South Seattle.
Kelly Ann Brown Foundation was more than happy to partner with this incredible organization. Kelly’s values are expressed beautifully in VWP’s purpose statement:
"Since our inception in 2007, VWP has ensured access to our programs through our Scholarship Fund. We believe that lack of funds should never prevent a child from the opportunity to learn and grow, or a family from feeling connected to a larger community of people who care for their children and the earth. To date, we have awarded more than $91,000 in tuition-based financial aid. We are proud that we have never turned anyone away due to economic barriers, and remain committed to this ethic as our programs expand."
Kelly Ann Brown Foundation’s mission to honor Kelly and her legacy is easily accomplished through supporting a program as child-centered and creative as the Vashon Wilderness Program. We look forward to hearing more from this important non-profit!
Click here to learn more about Vashon Wilderness Program.