Access is a M.U.S.T.

Snowboarding Feb 2024

Creating opportunities for our Mentees and Mentors to experience the world in ways that challenge and inspire them is essential in guiding them on their path to liberation. Introducing M.U.S.T. Mentees and Mentors to places and activities that have historically been difficult — if not impossible for underserved Black males to access — help provide a sense of empowerment while inspiring new ideas and bolstering self confidence. This is a core component of M.U.S.T. programming. Two of the key ingredients of Liberation are 1) learning the ability to cultivate moments of joy and recharge our souls, and 2) gaining exposure to experiences and recreation beyond the day to day stressful world to which our thoughts and dreams can be confined. Some find brief reprieve in a couple hours of video games or shooting hoops at the community center, but we want our Mentees and Mentors to live out the concept of “Seeing is believing,” which was the driving force behind M.U.S.T.’s Winter Quarterly Event.

In February, M.U.S.T. participants headed to the mountains, bundling up to learn to ski and snowboard. For most, this was their first time getting to stand on the mountains that shape their everyday skyline. The thick canvas of crisp snow in Snoqualmie is a far cry from the inch or two of slush that falls on Seattle every few years, and the Mentees and Mentors were overwhelmed by this new landscape. Stepping off the bus into the crisp clean air the group marveled at their surroundings. “Wow, these are those mountains that I always be seeing far away,” A Garfield freshman said to his Mentor, smiling with wide eyes.

As unique as the snowy mountains were to the M.U.S.T. Mentees and Mentors, the group of 48 Black males trudging through the snow to the ski lifts was as unique of a sight for the mountain and those on it – and that was the point. As a morning of tumbling and falling down the slopes slowly turned to an afternoon of sweeping and gliding down the mountain (some more successfully than others) the meaning of the day was on full display – opening a space and activity previously inaccessible to M.U.S.T. Mentees and Mentors to allow for mental, emotional and spiritual growth to fully embrace a new, fun, exciting experience together.

Invigorated and exhausted, they all gathered at the end of the day to reflect on what it meant and how it felt to be in a place you’ve never been before, doing something you never thought possible. The group shared their thoughts on challenging perceptions and facing fears, while contemplating how seeing yourself in a new place makes it real, being presented with a question to think about on the way home – what other seemingly out of reach things might they be able to accomplish?

 

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