Shawn and Laura Sears were touched by inner-city kids with too many strikes against them and invited a few for an outdoor camping experience. The outing was so satisfying all around that they just kept doing it.
Marilyn Jones has the story at the Christian Science Monitor.
“Leaving college with liberal arts degrees – his in psychology, hers in geology – Shawn and Laura applied to Teach for America and were eventually placed to teach in one of the poorest regions in the country.
“Today, celebrating 14 years together (getting married along the way in 2004), they’ve seen the seeds sown during their experiences in Mississippi grow to fruition in the founding of Vida Verde Nature Education, a nonprofit outdoor education camp they’ve now run for 11 years.
“Located on northern California’s spectacular coast between San Francisco and Santa Cruz, this free camp for children from low-income families has served more than 7,000 kids from the inner cities of Oakland, East Palo Alto, San Francisco, and San Jose.
” ‘We help them let go of much of the negativity they often carry,’ Shawn says. ‘It’s nonstop fun, and they get to just be kids for a few days. Three days later, they’re transformed.’ “
Tony Avelar/Special to the Christian Science Monitor
Laura and Shawn Sears founded Vida Verde to give groups of students three days of exposure to and hands-on experience in the outdoors.