It's Feature Friyay! We're excited to introduce Emma (she/her) a half Salvadorian, half Guatemalan Nashville resident. Born in Cali, raised in South Florida, a Latinx lover of the Earth. Read her and her daughter's story below! "Growing up in South Florida my outdoor experiences mainly revolved around the beach and family fishing trips. When my family moved to Tennessee I was 17. At that age, I was angry about moving and dealt with a lot of anxiety and depression. I also felt incredibly out of place coming from such a diverse area of the country to here. I felt I had no identity here as a minority in school. Those feelings, unfortunately, led to the cycle of my poor mental health and acting out in school. At around 18 years old I came upon a state park entrance by making a wrong turn in town. Radnor Lake State Park. That day I hiked my very first trail (in jeans and flip flops lol) and fell in love with mother nature. 9 years later I have never looked back.
Hiking has brought me such inner peace, happiness, and mental strength. I've continued to hike through my early 20's, pregnancy and through my daughter's infant and toddler years as a single mother. Instilling a love of the outdoors is one of my top priorities when it comes to parenting. My daughter, Ava, has joined me on all but 3 hikes since she was born 5 years ago. If I could pass on any advice to families and mothers, especially, it would be to BRING your children on your hiking adventures. I have never once felt a trail was too impossible for us to conquer together. In 2017 alone we hiked to 24 waterfalls as a team. Hiking with children is 100% possible. Have a positive mindset and make hiking educational, yet fun! Hiking has helped me figure out my identity, A Latinx lover of the earth." - Emma Sofia Villalta