Julie’s Dream seeks to overcome the systemic barriers that prevent youth from low-income communities from experiencing the transformative power of the outdoors. Julie’s Dream currently partners with four nonprofit organizations who serve children in under-resourced communities in Atlanta: Agape Youth and Family Center, Field Camp Ministries, PAWKids, and Wilderness Works. Through these partnerships, Julie’s Dream has provided dozens of outdoor adventures ranging from canoeing on the Chattahoochee to hiking in the Rocky Mountains.
Spending time in the outdoors enhances educational outcomes, correlating to academic improvement in reading, math, science, and social studies. It is also linked to behavioral outcomes such as increased enthusiasm for learning, more impulse control, and greater ability to focus. For children who have experienced trauma or the turbulence of family economic instability, nature has shown to have an “undoing” effect of stress and trauma. Unfortunately, the access gap for children of color has only increased over the past few years.
Through Julie’s Dream programs, youth gain access to some of our country’s most beautiful natural surroundings and immerse themselves in nature. They develop self-confidence and gain a sense of accomplishment as they meet and exceed the high expectations set for them on these outdoor adventures. They are given tools to develop resilience as well as teambuilding and leadership skills. Julie’s Dream provides the space and time for children to grow and develop into young leaders in their communities; and we envision a new generation of Atlanta youth who will have hope for a different future through a meaningful connection to God and to the outdoors.