Redwood CU Banner


Side by Side YouThrive rafting trip participants (from left): Diana Carreno Arange, Fernanda Carreno, Sheila Vasquez, Angelica Montalvan, Kapono Howe and Vernon Pope-Banks. Photo courtesy Side By Side Youth/Andrew Hida

 YouThrive, a program offered by Side By Side Youth that offers early intervention services to stay on a positive path through school and adulthood, led its first therapeutic outdoor excursion since the outbreak of the pandemic. 

   A two-day river rafting adventure on the South Fork of the American River brought youth together as a reward for their personal achievements over the past year and to give them a chance to experience what they’ve learned about resilience, tenacity and empathy. 

   “What a joy it was to be together!” said YouThrive program supervisor Vernon Pope-Banks. “There are a lot of studies about the importance of in-person social connection, but seeing it come to life before our eyes is always magical.”

    Pope-Banks admits initially there was a bit of nervousness mixed with the excitement about the trip. Some attendees had fears of swimming. Others were nervous about camping and had no idea how to pitch a tent or make a fire. 

   “It was all totally foreign. It was uncomfortable and the kids felt out of place,” he said.

    But resiliency, conquering fears and learning to take a step out of their comfort zones are all core YouThrive concepts, so the trip became an opportunity for everyone to practice the tools they’ve learned. 

   “We had a chance to meet ‘adversity’ and learn how to respond to it. We talked about finishing what you start, focusing on the positive and seeing things through even when we are uncomfortable. And, we found that we could even have a lot of fun while doing it.”

   With the river rafting overnight deemed a success, YouThrive is already planning its next trip. To learn how you can support future YouThrive outings, contact Noelle Moss at



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.