Soul Dirt 2022 – Trails to a Healthy Community

It was a year of exciting growth at the VVMTA!  2022 brought more staff, different trail projects and our new outdoor recreation program, Soul Dirt. Created in partnership with Vail Health’s Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, Soul Dirt provides opportunities for sustainable recreation, social connection and environmental stewardship on the trails.  For over ten years, the VVMTA has been taking care of our community’s trails, now with Soul Dirt, we can also focus on sharing our love for them. Everyone deserves to experience the transformative benefits of the outdoors, so it is our hope that this program will help more people find the trail to a healthy life.

Through Soul Dirt, the VVMTA has formed new partnerships with organizations in the Valley like Mountain Pride, Shaw Cancer Center, Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement and more. These partnerships have empowered over 400 people to experience the trails and all they have to offer (some for the first time!).

Trails are the perfect place to connect with nature, our community, and to heal. They offer a space to exercise, meet new people, find moments of peace and gratitude, or simply, have some fun! As we look back to understand the impact Soul Dirt had in its first year, we reached out to participants to tell their Soul Dirt stories…

“When my cancer treatment was finishing up the medications started kicking in, it left me wondering what I wanted to do. During treatment I went through frequent exercise routines. Now drugs were kicking in, and stress was coming from different sources. I didn't know what to do. Reading an emailed event calendar from the Shaw Cancer Center, I saw a mountain bike ride posted. I went on that ride and it gave me a new feeling. Focusing on the ride made me more relaxed. Negative thoughts and stresses were eliminated…Having someone to ride with, makes it all the better. Needing more rides, I continued for a few more. The human body and mind improves. We are by nature, social creatures.”

“When my mental and physical health took a turn for the worst, I knew that I needed to get on the trails. Even though I am an experienced hiker, I needed community and conversation with good people as well. Soul Dirt was able to provide that for me and I am forever grateful. Something I always know is that I can walk uphill until I feel better, Soul Dirt helped me with that.”

“This was so enjoyable and really awesome that our leaders are also a part of the lgbt+ community. It was so awesome to be in an outdoor environment surrounded by people that accept us without having to ask for that acceptance. It's rare especially in small communities to be in spaces where I know I will be accepted and I don't even have to ‘come out’. I wish this event was reoccurring a minimum twice a month on different trails.”

Thank you to everyone that joined us on the trail in 2022 and we can’t wait to see what next year brings. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2023! 

See you on the trail,

Shawna Wood, Soul Dirt Program Manager

                                               Donate to the VVMTA

Shawna Wants You To Help Us Get Our Community Outside:

Donate now to support our community with:

  1. Gear:  A significant barrier for our community to get outside is simply the right gear.  Whether it’s a helmet, bike, water bottle, or backpack, we are always in need of more gear for our participants to encourage them to get outside.
  2. Resources & Education:  Support to increase the resources available to our community to understand how, where, and why they can get outside on the trails.  Imagine not knowing you have a trail in your backyard that is free and yours to use.  We want to make sure our community knows this and feels welcome to use it.
  3. Food, Drink, & Swag:  Getting out on our trails is a great way to socialize and celebrating a great time on the trails with food, drink, and swag always reinforces the excitement and builds relationships amongst our community.

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