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The Magic of Belonging

A sense of belonging is something that you can’t fake. Words aren’t enough–it’s a feeling that you experience in your bones. The moment your shoulders relax, you’re naturally engaged with the people and environment around you and you feel…safe.

That welcoming, secure feeling is one that inspires the SheJump community daily. We live to create that feeling for women and girls who are experiencing the outdoors. Why does it matter?

Because we ALL belong outdoors.

It’s no secret that, historically, the outdoors have had a range of barriers related to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geographic location. At SheJumps, we are working to shatter those barriers.

SheJumps was started by three cis-gendered, able-bodied white women, including Executive Director Claire Smallwood, with the intention of inspiring women to jump–to take a risk because they have a safe place to land. Fifteen years ago, the conversation around privilege in the outdoors was binary. Instead of asking why people weren't included, the dominant white culture of outdoor enthusiasts made it seem as if underrepresented identities simply didn't want to be outside. The growth of social media and the Internet has allowed us to learn–and unlearn–so that we better understand that investing in programs and access to the outdoors that benefit the MOST excluded women and girls—Women and Girls of Color—will benefit everyone.

Maya Angelou said that “in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” By empowering and embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion, we collectively become stronger, smarter, and more connected. That connection drives the creation of safe, welcoming spaces.

At SheJumps, we’re proud that our year-over-year growth from 2019 to 2021 is 30 percent. That means women and girls want to be outside, regardless of their experience level. They’re chasing opportunities to connect to nature…and to one another.

The other piece to the Girafficorn puzzle? Accessibility. It’s impossible to establish belonging without lowering or eliminating the barrier of entry so that everyone can join in on the fun.

One of the ways SheJumps is committed to increasing accessibility to outdoor sports for women and girls of color is through scholarships. Scholarships for resort skiing, avalanche education, and Wilderness First Aid training are one way we are increasing access to the outdoors for women of color. These opportunities help create equitable inclusion and are lottery-based to avoid the harmful practice of asking people to exploit their past through applications

One of our recent Snowpack Scholarship recipients, Jessica Beltran, talks about discovering where she belongs:

“Everyone strives to find a home, not a house. A place in this world where no matter what, you are comfortable, safe and feel seen. The outdoors is my home. It calms me, it pushes me to be the best version of myself, it allows me to take risks and I can really find peace in the outdoors.”

Will you support Jessica and thousands of other women and girls to find their sense of belonging in the outdoors? Support SheJumps today to make that a reality and reach our critical fundraising goal of $20,000!

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