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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Letter from Publisher

Jul 29, 2016 07:16PM

In June my 12-year-old son, Yonatan, had the wonderful opportunity to spend two weeks at an overnight camp located on a beautiful lake surrounded by nature. It was his first time away from home for such a long stretch. Electronic devices and phone calls were not allowed; the only way to communicate with the outside world was through written letters. He left feeling both excited and anxious, fearing he might become homesick or be unable to manage for such a long time without mom’s help.

Two weeks later I picked up a happy, confident young man who gushed for hours about the amazing experience. He created new friendships with kids from all over the country, and the experience helped foster in him a new sense of independence, confidence and competence.

August’s issue, themed “Empowering Youth,” presents ways to both prepare for the future and keep kids physically and mentally stimulated, even during those tumultuous teen years when kids struggle to find themselves and figure things out independently.

Milwaukee is fortunate to have many options for kids. Alternative education models such as Montessori schools and Waldorf education integrate holistic, intellectual and artistic development via music, art, dramatic play and storytelling. Our own Tamarack Waldorf School became the 42nd Waldorf school in North America to add high school grade levels to its curriculum. In our public schools, broader partnerships with nonprofits and the private sector are enriching students’ educational experiences in creative ways. The nonprofit Arts @ Large engages K-12 public school students in experiential learning through the arts.

Beyond the walls of the classroom, Milwaukee’s summer and yearlong urban agriculture programs offer mentorship and leadership opportunities that build skills, encourage positive decision making and serve the local community. These include Growing Power, Teens Grow Greens, Walnut Way’s Growing Youth Leadership program, Victory Garden Initiative, Running Rebels and others.  

New Vision Wilderness’ “Wilderness Therapy” is a creative new form of behavioral health care that encompasses outdoor adventures, camping, rock climbing and canoeing. The approach helps teens and young adults gain respect for nature, learn to work as part of a team, and develop problem-solving skills, which builds self-esteem.

In these times of uncertainty, during which violent and negative images and words flood our media, we can show our kids a better way through leadership in our communities; finding solace in nature; and teaching good stewardship of our land, air, water and food resources. The example starts with us.

Let’s step up, together.

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher

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