American Whitewater/Asian Pacific Islander Mental Health Day on the River
By: Theresa Lorejo-Simsiman
Earlier in the year, American Whitewater Southern Rockies Stewardship Director, Hattie Johnson, reached out to check on my well-being in the wake of anti-Asian hate crimes. She wanted to help the community in any way she could and offered a trip on the river as a venue for healing. It wasn’t long before our conversation turned into a plan for an American Whitewater/Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Mental Health Day on the river. It would be a day of connecting hearts and minds to our shared values of the outdoors and the rivers that run through them.
Coordinated with my sister, Fran Campbell, President/CEO of the Asian Chamber of Commerce, Hattie worked with the Mighty Arrow Foundation, New Belgium Brewery, and Conservation Colorado to put together a trip down Middle Clear Creek with Downstream Adventures. All the planning came together on a perfect sunny Sunday where front line leaders and members from the Asian Chamber of Commerce, Asian Pacific Development Center, Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families and the Filipino American Community of Colorado enjoyed a day of whitewater.
In her thank you letter to American Whitewater Fran expressed “It turned out to be exactly as titled – a much needed mental health day! But more than just our thanks for the rafting trip, we want to thank you for your support and solidarity for our community. I think it is important for our AAPI community to know that there is respite and joy in outdoor recreation and it’s great that you are the first open, welcoming door.”