Our Wild Bells Collection celebrates the people who are doing their part to bring outdoor access to all, including artist Brooklyn Bell and non-profit Women’s Wilderness. These products feature art created by and named after Bell, who is an advocate for greater representation in our outdoor community. Women’s Wilderness, a longtime partner of Outdoor Research, is a national leader in environmentally sustainable outdoor programming.
Each purchase from our Wild Bells Collection gives back 5% of profits to the non-profit Women’s Wilderness, whose goal it is to share the gifts of the wilderness with people of all colors, backgrounds, sizes, gender identities, and experience levels. Their specialty is helping girls, women, and LGBTQ+ people become their strongest, best selves, while providing solid instruction in wilderness travel and outdoor skills.
Programs like the ones Women’s Wilderness provide have never been more important than now, as 1.5 billion kids worldwide (55 million in the U.S.) are experiencing school disruptions and social isolation due to COVID-19 precautions.
“Teenagers… have amplified innate, developmental motivations that make them hard to isolate at home. The hormonal changes that come with puberty conspire with adolescent social dynamics to make them highly attuned to social status and peer group,” according to Christine Carter of Psychology Today.
According to Psychology Today, 35% of youth receive mental health services from their school, and this uniquely impacts people based on age, race, gender, socioeconomics, and ability, making mental and physical health services all the more critical.
For 22 years, Women’s Wilderness has been addressing the barriers that come not just from a product of race, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomics - but they’ve been working through how those factors impact access and experience in the outdoors. In fact, they are the oldest gender-informed outdoor educator in the U.S., as well as one of the only outdoor service providers that looks at access through a lens of intersectionality.
Women’s Wilderness serves roughly 700 people every year with programs like:
- Girls Lead for Life: After-school climbing and leadership training for middle school aged girls.
- Queer Wilderness Project: Multi-day courses for LGBTQ+ identified folks.
- : 8-week program designed specifically for and led by Black Indigenous People of Color.
- Outdoor G.I.R.L.S.: New for 2020, G.I.R.L.S. (Girl Immigrant and Refugee Leadership Series) is an after school, year-round outdoor program for newcomer girls to the U.S.
As of last year, 60% of Women’s Wilderness participants received financial aid and were living under Federal Poverty Guidelines. One-third of their participants identified as girls of color, both populations that are experiencing the impact COVID-19 disproportionately.
Right now, we all need space in the outdoors to collectively process the changes our world is going through. What better way to do that than support an organization that’s making it easier for people who otherwise may not have the opportunity to heal outside.
Photo courtesy of Women's Wilderness.