How you can Discover Your Personal Outside Pleasure in Nature, In accordance with 14 Individuals of Shade

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Spending time outdoors — whether it’s for activities like running, biking, hiking, or even taking some quiet time to enjoy all that nature has to offer — has long been heralded as something that’s free, easy, and for everyone is accessible. But the truth is not quite so simple.

Historically, black and indigenous communities and people of color have had less access to nature than white communities. According to a 2020 report commissioned by the Hispanic Access Foundation and the Center for American Progress, communities of color are more than three times as likely to live in naturally disadvantaged locations, meaning they have less access to forests, Streams and other natural places as white communities. Aside from access issues, people of color may also face risks such as intimidation, stereotyping, or even violence when attempting to enjoy outdoor places, according to the report.

As a result, members of these communities are less likely to experience the benefits that nature has to offer: According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Forestry, the vast majority of visitors to US national forests self-identify as white, only 6 % identify as Hispanic or Latino and 1% identify as Black. According to the National Health Foundation, people of color make up nearly 40% of the US population, while whites make up about 70% of all visitors to National Wildlife Refuges, National Parks and National Forests.

The events of recent years – from the tragic shooting of runner Ahmaud Arbery to the false accusation of bird watcher Christian Cooper – have sparked important conversations about inclusion and the accessibility of popular outdoor activities. As a result, grassroots organizations have sprung up to break down these barriers, promote inclusion and help bring the outdoors to more people. For example, running clubs like the Running Industry Diversity Coalition and organizations like the Inclusive Outdoors Project are devoting time and resources to raising awareness of outdoor injustice and diversifying outdoor communities and events. (Of course, the work for inclusion should not fall solely on the shoulders of people from these marginalized groups. Work – like reaching out to underrepresented communities when considering where to create outdoor recreational facilities – is required at a systemic level, like the Center for the American progress report detailed.)

“Connecting with a community can do so much that you don’t feel alone and just take the time [outdoors] more joyful,” Kim Walker, co-founder of Abundant Life Adventure Club, a community that uses outdoor activities to help Black professionals disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, told SELF.

Connecting with a community can help you unwind in nature, but it’s not the only way to find joy in the great outdoors — for some, the lonely aspect can provide the relaxation they crave. After all, outdoor enjoyment is truly individual, and what matters most is finding a way to experience it that resonates with you the most. Here 14 people of color share their stories of finding their own joy in nature.

1. I’ve built confidence by strengthening my outdoor survival skills.

“As a person whose family suffers from a range of chronic, stress-related health conditions — such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions — it’s really important for me to live and exercise in a way that can prevent these problems from occurring appear in my life. I know that the more time I spend exercising and just being outside in the woods, near the water, or at my neighborhood park, my metabolic profile tends to be more stable.