Exploring Riveredge: “Prescription Strength RX for Everyone”

Over the years, Riveredge has been a home to various communities. From a range of artistic creators, to the memory loss community, to the homeschool and neurodiverse communities, we strive to stretch the definition of who explores the outdoors. In the past year, we’ve overall been working to welcome people who, historically, haven’t spent much time at Riveredge.

Riveredge has recently become more acquainted with the Hispanic community that encompasses more than 6,000 people throughout Ozaukee and Washington counties. Children within these families are often bilingual, speaking Spanish in the home and English at school. All generations in the home may not necessarily be English speakers, however, and organizations such as Casa Guadalupe work to bridge this gap.

We became aware fairly recently of this fact by way of Riveredge member and 2019-20 Riveredge School Governance Council member, Cecilia Guajardo. Cecilia and her family moved from her native Mexico to begin living in Ozaukee County about 10 years ago with her husband’s workplace relocation. Since then, when not parenting, working, or working in the home, Cecilia has spent her time exploring outdoors throughout Wisconsin’s various seasons.

She first visited Riveredge as a field trip chaperone with her daughter’s Thorson Elementary School class. “We walked into the river with waders and it was such an incredible experience!” said Cecilia. “We became members that day and we’ve been Riveredge members ever since.”

“That’s part of what I love being outdoors.

Nobody needs a translator to enjoy nature.”

In one of her many community roles, Cecilia works with Casa Guadalupe, a West Bend organization that works to be the bridge of integration to Hispanics and to the communities in which they live through education and community access.

Cecilia has spent the pandemic outdoors, exploring Riveredge trails daily. “Coming from a sunny climate I like to call it Nature RX – prescription strength nature,” she smiles. “Nature is the best antidepressant I’ve found.” With so many various business closures, she started wondering if extended family health in the Casa community might be suffering throughout the pandemic.

A little bit of blooming Coreopsis is part of nature’s prescription strength RX.

Riveredge and Casa Guadalupe have started a partnership welcoming Casa families who are a part of the Read to Succeed program to explore Riveredge with family memberships. Cecilia graciously translated Riveredge membership materials into Spanish so that all generations could read the text. Our shared hope is to provide healthy outdoor options to Casa families while also welcoming people who might not otherwise explore these 10 miles of trails along the Milwaukee River.

Cecilia realizes that diversity in the outdoors might be new for some. “It’s funny, sometimes, how people respond when they hear an accent different from their own in the outdoors,” said Cecilia. “People sometimes give me that look of surprise, that they didn’t expect to hear my voice out on a trail. But I hike here so much I’m often helping people figure out where they are on their map,” she laughs. “I am the person who moved here and sometimes giving directions to people from this area. That’s part of what I love being outdoors. Nobody needs a translator to enjoy nature.”

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