CHEEER manager opens doors for underrepresented youth

See You At The Top Youth Group (SYATT)

by Erika Hood, M.Ed., Program Development Manager, Center for Health Equity Engagement Education and Research

I know that we all have things that we are super passionate about. Besides my work here at the Center for Health Equity Engagement Education and Research (CHEEER), I am super passionate about creating culturally relevant exposure opportunities for black and brown people, through my organization See You At The Top (SYATT). SYATT was founded 10 years ago with a mission to get more black and brown kids involved in sports where minorities have been underrepresented. We’ve since grown to creating the same opportunities for adults and running exposure trips abroad for youth and adults.

Cleveland is rich in diversity, but lacks equity in access for many things, including recreational opportunities. We have a beautiful park system that many residents cannot access, ski resorts in our backyard that many residents cannot afford, and those black and brown individuals who do partake in non-traditional recreational activities too often feel as if they do not belong in those spaces.

SYATT members kayak on the Cuyahogs

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit on a panel for the Sound of Ideas Community Tour episode (listen to the episode here) about the Cuyahoga River: Past, Present, and Future. My panel spoke about the future of our river and how important it is to appreciate our river’s history, but also to take advantage of it through recreational activities.

This past weekend, we celebrated “Cuyahoga50”, a River Reborn! I had an amazing time on the river. We canoed Friday, kayaked Saturday, and even hung out with Robert Kennedy Jr, talking about environmental issues.  Cleveland, we must do a better job of diversifying our outdoor spaces. We all deserve the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and fun that our city has to offer, as well as the ability to de-stress in outdoor places.

Erika Hood, CHEEER; , Robert Kennedy Jr.; and Ebony Hood, Northeast Ohio Sewer District.

In another 50 years, it is our hope to celebrate an even cleaner Cuyahoga River,  but let’s also celebrate our city, “Cleveland: A City Reborn!” Collaboration, passion, dedication, and policy changes led to the cleaning of our polluted river, let’s use the same energy to clean our city of systemic racism, oppression, inequities! Let’s celebrate our river and aim for A City Reborn!