WellShare partners with the DNR

WellShare International and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announce new partnership 

Providing Mankato area Somali youth with a sense of belonging through outdoor recreational experiences 

Mankato, MN: In partnership with the DNR and Mankato Family YMCA, WellShare is providing Somali youth in the Mankato area new ways to stay healthy and explore the great outdoors. This cross-sectoral collaboration also involves engagement with Dar Abi Bakr Mosque and St Peter Islamic Center, where WellShare hosts their Somali Youth Group funded by Mayo Clinic Health System and Mankato Area United Way. The Somali Youth Group’s aim is to foster equity and inclusion is advanced through this new partnership by offering Somali youth a greater sense of belonging and acceptance within the community. Lead Internal Consultant, Mohamed Ibrahim shares, “Many of the children and families in our program are isolated. They don’t feel like they are connected to Minnesota and are unable to recreate outdoors in ways that come easily for other Minnesotans. These opportunities support healthy mental development for kids.”

In response to parents voicing concerns that their children were lacking outdoor education and experience, Director of WellShare’s Mankato office, Evan Curtin, enlisted the help of DNR Fisheries Supervisor, Craig Soupir, and DNR Fish and Wildlife Outreach Mentor Coordinator, Benji Kohn. “Craig Soupir and Benji Kohn have worked hard to organize this fishing event, to get these opportunities in front of the kids, and overcome barriers to getting people fishing licenses” says Evan Curtin. The event provided a supportive environment for the kids to explore a novel way to engage outdoors.

Participants learned how to rig and cast poles and received engaging education on local fish species and fishing regulations. For the majority of the kids, this was their first experience being able to interact with live fish. Curtin shares, “they were very excited to learn how to catch them and be able to continue to enjoy this activity on their own.”

To ensure the benefits of this event extend into their everyday lives, parents received Somali translated fishing regulations and help with navigating the process of registration to obtain a fishing license. Craig Soupir will take kids on monthly fishing excursions at local piers and WellShare and the DNR will host a similar experience at the MN Fishing Opener on May 12.

For more information, please contact Director of WellShare Mankato Office, Evan Curtin at ecurtin@wellshareinternational.org.

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