Nov 28, 2018

This past summer, Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!) contacted GoPro about a Grand Canyon expedition the crew was organizing. After learning more about YES!'s mission statement—empowering youth to gain lifelong skills through unique experiences on a journey toward community uplift and equity—GoPro for a Cause was 100% on board to help capture and share the story. Learn about it first-hand below through the recount of YES! Wilderness Co-Founder Benjie Howard.

Benjie Howard: In July, Youth Equity Stewardship—better known as YES!completed its second annual expedition through the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Youth ambassadors and educators from urban, suburban and rural communities of Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Washington were invited by YES! to spend eight days together on the expedition.

The YES! program is an intergenerational, art-based experience that seeks to teach middle and high school students and educators valuable skills and knowledge. Through the program, participants build cross-cultural relationships, while growing their collective capacity as change agents and stewards of environmental sustainability, equity and social justice in their communities.

Our ambassadors brought a wide diversity of perspectives from varying ethnicities, including African American, Latino, Filipino, Pacific Islander, Caucasian and mixed race backgrounds. The group also included young people from Muckleshoot, Northern Paiute and Tarahumara Nations and young people representing the LGBTQ community. The majority of our youth ambassadors have experienced the challenges of living in a low-income family, but a few ambassadors are from middle and upper-middle class realities, too.  

There are roughly 1,500 YES! participants across the country, but just 25 are chosen for the Grand Canyon Expedition. Students are chosen based on their capacity to take their learning to the next level—articulating how they might bring the lessons of a wilderness experience home to their schools and neighborhoods. The trip itself is designed to amplify these ambassadors’ capacity to affect change in the world, to grow and organic wilderness-based learning community, and build a manifesto for how we all might survive and thrive in this challenging 21st century. 

To learn more about YES!, visit youthequitystewardship.com or follow them at @youthequitystewardship.