By Jenny Sandbo, Y.E.T.I. Volunteer
A few years ago, before the pandemic, Fatiha was at a public event in Burien where she saw a young woman working at a booth displaying kayaks. Curious, she asked “what is this?”. That is how she learned about the Youth Experiential Training Institute (Y.E.T.I.).
Y.E.T.I. hosts outdoor adventures for kids in 6-12th grade in Public Schools. The goal is equity – adventures are provided on a sliding scale. Families pay what they can afford, even if that means paying nothing at all.
Fatiha was skeptical. In her mind there were so many barriers to exploring the outdoors. She enjoys watching documentaries about outdoor adventures, but most explorers do not look like her family. Additionally, outdoor recreation often requires resources, equipment, and knowledge not every family has access to, like a reliable car, specialized gear, and knowing where to go.
Nora, then in middle school, was the first to go on a trip with Y.E.T.I. Now her younger sister, Sara, and brother, Rayan, love to go. Between the three of them, they have been on dozens of trips: hiking, snowshoeing, mountain biking, kayaking, and rock climbing.
Each child has benefited from these experiences in their own way. Nora, a high school senior, struggles with anxiety and health issues. Fatiha says when Nora comes home from trips with Y.E.T.I. she feels better – she is lighter and happier. She hopes that Nora will continue her involvement with Y.E.T.I. (after high school) as a volunteer mentor.
Sara is energetic and full of enthusiasm. Diagnosed with ADHD, she’s the kid who can’t sit still, but on Y.E.T.I. adventures she doesn’t have to. She can bounce, run, hike, joke, laugh, be herself, and feel free. A caring and responsible friend, Sara encourages her friends to join her on adventures, too.
Rayan is the youngest and quietest of Fatiha’s three kids. Fatiha says that he has always been shy about trying new things and worries a lot about failing. Rayan says “YETI made me brave!” He came home from his first rock climbing trip (near Snoqualmie Pass) so proud of his success and newly discovered physical ability. He can climb!
“The outdoors is vitamins for our eyes and brain – it boosts our energy! It’s a restart button. When they come home, they are refreshed.” Fatiha is grateful for Y.E.T.I.’s positive impact on her children’s lives.
As a family, they have developed a new appreciation for the simple act of going outside. The kids say “Mom, come outside and look at the sunset!”. They visit their local parks, beaches, and trails. Fatiha wants to hike to Twin Falls. The kids want their own kayaks.
Y.E.T.I. creates accessible outdoor adventures for teens in King County through afterschool programs, weekend trips, and summer camps. They also provide essential gear and trained Instructors, to get young people into nature safely and enjoyably.
Your donation supports equitable outdoor experiences for youth in south King County.
To learn more, visit goyeti.org.
View more YETI student stories at The GRIT.
(Note: Alias’ were used to protect the children’s identity.)