Getting outside and experiencing nature offers mental healing like no other, according to the staff at Power To Be in Victoria.
Power To Be is a non-profit organization that takes kids and adults with mental and physical disabilities and challenges into nature to help them discover their potential.
“We try to reduce those barriers and create those opportunities for them to get out there and experience things that anyone else can enjoy,” said Jason Cole, director of programs at Power To Be. “I think nature and outdoor activities give a sense of challenge and an opportunity to really evoke that in yourself.”
Programs include kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, canoeing and more. Each program is tailored to the individuals in the group who are living with a barrier or disability to help them increase their access to outdoor adventure experiences.
“It’s a massive, lifelong, everlasting change, even from being in a two-hour kayaking program, to being in a long-term program,” she said. “A sense of self-confidence, a new interest in a sport or activity, a complete connection to something natural in our environment that they otherwise never would have been able to get to or appreciate.
In 2014, Power To Be worked with more than 50 community partners and served more than 1,000 participants.
“We try to provide an opportunity for anyone who feels they have a need,” said Kenigsberg. “We’ve never had to turn anyone around and say that they can’t fit into our programs. We would just design a way that they could.”
Through his work with Power To Be, Cole recently won a Vancouver Island Top 20 Under 40 Business and Community Achievement Award.
“The fact that I was put forward by my team was what meant the most to me,” said Cole. “[And] to see the community reflect back that they value the work I do was also very humbling and inspiring for me to keep doing more.”