Rivers For All (RFA) brings underrepresented populations (including youth and low-income populations) living in the White Salmon and Klickitat out for whitewater trips on their neighborhood rivers. Through RFA, we can equalize access to river recreation, foster connections to the natural world, increase physical and mental health, and build leadership in our communities.
In addition to nurturing rich ecosystems, rivers provide many physical and mental health benefits and offer an important way to gain self-understanding and an appreciation for the impact of the environment on one’s wellbeing and to the whole of a community.
But oftentimes youth and individuals who would most benefit from an "outdoor classroom” can’t afford or don’t have access to the gear that would allow them to get on the river in a safe or structured manner.
RFA’s curriculum is based on the intention and passion for creating positive life-changing experiences through whitewater rafting. A sport of accessibility, rafting allows people of all abilities a chance to experience the benefits of the river. In each boat, individuals work together paddling and focusing on being a team. River safety is emphasised on and off the water, giving individuals the knowledge through experience on the foundation of risk management and decision making skills. These experiences give individuals a way of being physically active, exploring the beauty of nature, while sharing the experience with others.
Unlike other water sources, rivers combine the thrill of rapids as well as the flip side of tranquillity found in calm slow-moving water. When floating through sections of calm river, RFA encourages mindful silence so as to tune into the natural sounds. This form of mindfulness shows individuals how to calm their mind, de-stress from the busy, typically noisy world, and learn how to be fully present in the beautiful places we call home.
RFA’s rafting trips educate participants in leadership and natural resource preservation and demonstrates how both can be applied to the community and the watershed in which they live. The experience teaches teamwork, communication, self-confidence, risk management, decision-making, and tolerance for adversity and uncertainty.
Heather Kowalewski and Paul Gillingham
Inspired to engage local youth in outdoor education programs that include whitewater rafting and community service projects, RFA program developers and leaders Heather and Paul believe river experiences are life changing and provide the perfect platform for interpersonal exploration, empowerment, team-building, communication, and developing awareness and appreciation for the natural world.
Help our community experience the beauty, power, and life lessons of rivers
In first year of its inception, Rivers For All has provided inspiring programming for free to 52 local participants but there are so many more people we can service. Please help us ensure everyone in the community has an opportunity to connect to their local watershed through the exciting and intimate experience of whitewater rafting.