This blog is part of our Elevating Voices series in partnership with   

 

Meet Dineo Dowd.  Dini is one of Hike it Baby’s Board of Directors members, and a former Branch Ambassador.  She’s an author of multiple children’s books and has a 7-year-old daughter.  Her family lives in Madison, Wisconsin, but this wasn’t always the case!

Growing Up

I grew up in South Africa, but did not have a connection to hiking. Hiking was something tourists did. They carried their stuffed packs and headed out, and I always wondered what ARE they doing? What is even IN those packs? Hiking and camping just were just tourist activities, and I wasn’t involved in them at all until moving to the United States.

Moving to the United States

When I moved to Utah, my husband and I went hiking very frequently and became very outdoorsy. I was hiking regularly, camping all the time, and had an amazing group of friends to do all of these activities with. It was everything, and an important part of my identity.  

My husband and I planned to keep up this outdoorsy lifestyle even after the birth of our daughter, Armani. However, once Armani arrived, I found that hiking with a baby was new and different. Those friends that I hiked with didn’t always want to listen to a baby cry, or wait for diaper changes and feedings. One day, my husband and I attempted a difficult hike with the baby, and I slipped and fell, breaking my camera. This left me frustrated and lacking confidence in hiking with my daughter. An important part of my life was gone and I felt defeated. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter Hike it Baby

One day, I was chatting with a stranger who mentioned Hike it Baby. This mom mentioned a group called Hike it Baby, where moms and babies would go out for hikes as a group. This sounded amazing, and I looked them up for a hike to attend. I ended up going on my first Hike it Baby hike, which was also the first hike for the Salt Lake City branch. Hike it Baby changed my life. I began hiking five days a week with other parents, building my confidence in hiking with my daughter and spending time outside. Armani has had the opportunity to grow up outside, thanks to our adventures together and my deep desire to raise her with a connection to nature.

In spending time in nature, I’ve learned the most important piece to getting outside with kids is just that – Get outside! Worry about the gear later. People get overwhelmed with all of the things and gear to get outside, but it usually doesn’t matter – just start going outside. Simply open the door and start exploring together. There are so many benefits to taking those steps outside and embracing nature. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I’ve had the opportunity to embrace nature, meet amazing new people, and travel to awesome places (next up, Mount Kilimanjaro!).

Inclusivity in Nature

When I first sought out diverse children’s books about hiking, I found that there simply were none on the shelves. I wanted Armani to be able to see herself in nature, and so I wrote a children’s book to make that happen. I’m now a published children’s book author with multiple titles, diverse books and is helping children everywhere see themselves in nature!

I may have started with Hike it Baby Salt Lake City, but have since been involved in multiple Hike it Baby branches and my advice is that there are so many resources and ways to be inclusive, there is no excuse not to be inclusive in nature.  Just make it happen!  

 

ABOUT HIKE IT BABY

Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to create a world where everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of spending time outside. We are focused on creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. We believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. Since its grassroots inception in 2013, Hike it Baby is a growing community of 270,000 families and over 400 volunteer Branch Ambassadors. More information, as well as outdoor engagement events, can be found at HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

EDITORS NOTE:

We hope you enjoyed reading this article from Hike it Baby. We’re working hard to provide our community with content and resources that inform, inspire, and entertain you.
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