“If I have that luxury to offer my son the outdoors in a consistent way because of knowledge and access, everyone should have that luxury,” Benitez said. “It’s one of Corazón Latino’s biggest passions – access to public lands for everyone. We all have the right to enjoy them, and we all have the responsibility to care for them.”
Solid research shows just a few minutes outside in green spaces reduces stress, helps people stay focused, and has tremendous benefits to your health, but many families of color don’t get this message, he said. We often live in cities, dealing with asthma and other health conditions that would improve by getting outside. And the picture we as Americans most often see of the outdoors is a solitary person contemplating life somewhere in nature, by themselves, and maybe not a Latino.
Corazón Latino, a nonprofit organization, is joining efforts to change that image by making Latino families feel welcome outside, to the point that they become stewards of nature for future generations.
That is why their outdoor events may include camping with dancing, and nature hikes followed by pupusas. Benitez says Latinos like to enjoy nature as a community.
“It’s a celebration for families. Let’s talk, let’s dance, let’s feast together and let’s bring the outdoors experience into your heart.”
Through a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, including projects like Descubre el Bosque, Benitez and his nonprofit will continue hosting outdoor events in the Washington, DC area for families.
The next event is Sunday, June 10, at Kenilworth Gardens – a bilingual family event where attendees can explore the forest and waters, dance, eat, and act as Civic Scientists when they look out for the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species of beetle killing Ash trees across the country (the tree is used to make baseball bats.) Attendees can even plant a tree to highlight what we can all do to restore the land and protect the waters.
Through the ongoing local events, the group is also informing national research on how to get Latinos outside, and to fall in love with the land that is theirs, too.
SUNDAY, JUNE 10 EVENT DETAILS:
Reto Descubre el Bosque (Discover the Forest Challenge) Part 2: A Multicultural Celebration of Citizen Science, Tree/Forest Protection and Connection to Community Health
Sunday, June 10
2:30 PM to 5:30 PM
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
1900 Anacostia Ave SE
Washington, DC 20020
Corazón Latino, the USDA Forest Service - Forest Health Protection and Conservation Education staff, Parks RX America, Unity Health Care, the National Park Service, Hispanic Access Foundation, Anacostia Riverkeepers, GreenLatinos, and Latino Outdoors