Local Youth Program Volunteers To Clean Up Brainerd Rec Center

  • Monday, November 29, 2021

Students with Bridge Chattanooga will volunteer with the Chattanooga Park Stewards to clean up the Brainerd Rec Center on Wednesday, Dec. 1, from 3-5 p.m.

Bridge Chattanooga uses nature and outdoor adventures as a springboard to form relationships and teach students essential skills that help them lead "healthy, productive and joyful lives." The program serves Dalewood Middle School students. 

The Chattanooga Park Stewards Volunteer Program's mission is to significantly improve area 
parks and greenways' environmental and aesthetic quality by organizing and promoting 
volunteerism and stewardship.

The Outreach Coordinator for the Department of Parks and Outdoors, Sofia Rudakevych, says it’s important that Bridge Chattanooga students learn to protect their surroundings.

“When I think about the role of student stewardship within our city parks, I think of building a foundation of caring. Connecting students with impactful service projects supports civic pride and stimulates others to want to improve their surroundings. It is through providing service and giving that responsibility to our public spaces is fostered. These places are yours, mine, ours to enjoy and protect,” said Ms. Rudakevych.

She says the students will mainly pull weeds and perform general maintenance of the community garden beds during their day of volunteering. 

Bridge Chattanooga is a trauma-informed outdoor adventure initiative that started in 2017 under 
the umbrella of First Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Brainerd. Staff members serve as 
advocates for students, often connecting families to resources to bridge gaps.

Bridge Chattanooga’s Social Worker and Logistics Coordinator Morgan Williams says volunteering is an important part of their program.

“When you are a kid, it’s hard to feel like you have a sense of ownership over anything, but this opportunity allows them to take ownership, and it gives them a sense of stewardship over the community,” said Ms. Williams.

Program Director for Bridge Chattanooga Sarah Quattrochi said, “Everyone owns the parks in our community, and when you have ownership over something, you automatically want to care for it more.”

The program currently serves nine students, and, since its inception, 150 students have completed the program. 
Bridge Chattanooga partners with numerous organizations to send Dalewood Middle School 
students on outdoor adventures, including Outdoor Chattanooga, Outshine Adventures, 
Tennessee State Parks, Kat Volzer, Lula Lake Land Trust, Tennessee River Gorge Trust and the 
National Park Service. To learn more about the program, visit www.facebook.com/bridgecha.

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