Who We Are
OUR GUIDING PRINCIPLES
We provide access to healthcare services and nature experiences for all children and families regardless of their prior experience or ability to pay for them. Systemic racism has hindered access to healthcare, nature spaces, and financial resources for all BIPOC, with particular effects for the Black community. We borrow strategies developed by Black educators to develop healthy racial awareness in all children. We continue to educate ourselves and hold ourselves accountable by paying Black experts to monitor our development as an organization.
We strive to provide access, belonging, acceptance, protection and healing to all community members using:
principles of nonviolence developed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
community building as developed by the Quakers and refined by the Foundation for Community Encouragement,
neurodiversity and strength-based practices, and;
restorative justice practices.
We start by listening and then match the tools in our collective to meet the self stated needs of the communities we serve. If by listening we discover that our tools will not meet the stated needs, we are committed to connecting the community with the resources needed through our networks and research. We center and prioritized the voices, emotional development and physical health of the marginalized and are mindful of intersectionality when making programming decisions. We also deeply believe in developing healthy racial and disability awareness in all people and understand that affinity groups are sometimes necessary in order to avoid further traumatization of Black and/or disabled children as white/able bodied children unpack their biases.
We nurture healing in nature by co-creating practices and spaces that empower and restore physical, emotional and spiritual wellness, wholeness, and presence.
There is a growing body of research to support Nature120’s guiding principles. Some highlights are available here.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ludmilla Akpa is passionate about non-profit organizations and women's leadership. She studied law in her native country of the Ivory Coast, before finally studying the management of non-profit organizations. When the war broke out in her country, she found refuge in Togo before being resettled with her children in Chicago. She is the founder of a non-governmental organization, Eden Oasis, which aims to improve the yield of women farmers in Ivory Coast for their financial autonomy and to fight by ricochet for food self-sufficiency in Africa. She intends to set up a listening and assistance center for refugee families, especially single mothers who are going through the trauma of cultural, psychological, emotional linguistic shock after their resettlement.
Bertha Purnell is a resident of Austin, a neighborhood in Chicago’s west side. She is a Nurse by education and worked faithfully until the death of her youngest son in 2017. She is the mother of five. She lost one of her sons to SIDS at 7 weeks. She lost her youngest son to gun violence in June of 2017. After that time she has devoted her life to working with and advocating for families. She started her organization Mothers On A Mission28 in 2017. She assists families that have been affected by violence. Her mission is to help her community heal healthy.
Jodi Walker, MA, CCC-SLP, COM, CYT has been practicing speech-language pathology since 1997, oro-facial myology since 2011 and teaching yoga since 2013. She runs the Center for Svedhyaya (self study) in Oak Park serving children and families with and without disabilities to promote health and wellness, self advocacy and independence. She is currently training in Buteyko breath reeducation and John Barnes myofascial release techniques. She lives in Oak Park with her blended family that consists of 4 adults, 2 kids, 3 dogs and a snake.
Lea Schweitz, Ph.D., is a writer, nature play consultant, award-winning educator, and lifelong Midwesterner. She lives in Oak Park with her musician/composer husband and her two inspiring, energetic kids. She is writing a book on practices to connect city folks to nature in their neighborhoods and is designing nature play spaces to get more kids outside for more than the recommended 120 minutes a week!