person in blue denim jeans wearing black and white converse all star high top sneakers


Welcome back to the eighth week of our EmpowerGen column! As we continue our journey, we shift our focus to a pressing issue affecting youth in both Boulder and Baja: mental health. The rise in suicide rates, school shootings, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the urgency to address mental health challenges among young individuals. In this article, we will explore the transformative potential of connecting youth to nature and purpose, backed by studies and articles that showcase the healing power of these experiences.  Read last week’s EmpowerGen Article about a young changemaker inspired by nature here.

The Challenge:

Today’s youth face unprecedented challenges, from academic pressures to social media overload, contributing to a surge in mental health issues. 

The need for mental health support is evident, and we must find holistic approaches to address these challenges effectively.

The Healing Power of Nature:

Numerous studies have highlighted the positive impact of nature on mental health. Spending time in nature has been linked to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. One study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending just two hours per week in nature is associated with better physical and mental health.

silhouette of person standing on rock surrounded by body of water

Nature as a Source of Purpose:

Beyond its calming effects, nature can also be a catalyst for purpose and personal growth. Engaging in conservation efforts or connecting with environmental causes allows youth to find meaning and purpose in their lives. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that youth engaged in environmental projects reported higher levels of self-esteem and overall life satisfaction.

The Playa Puertecito Effect:

Our Boulder to Baja project has allowed us to witness firsthand the transformative power of nature on youth mental health. The magical experiences on Playa Puertecito’s land have kindled a spirit of hope, fostering resilience and a deep sense of purpose among the young participants. As they immerse themselves in the wonders of nature, they also connect with a larger community, forging bonds that support their mental well-being.

Building a Supportive Community:

Alongside nature, fostering a sense of community is essential in supporting youth mental health. The American Psychological Association emphasizes the role of social connections in protecting against mental health issues. Our project emphasizes collaboration and unity, creating spaces where young individuals can feel supported and connected.

Spreading Awareness:

To address the mental health crisis among youth, we must raise awareness and advocate for change. By sharing stories of transformation and the healing power of nature and purpose, we can inspire communities to prioritize mental health support for young individuals.

How you can help someone who is struggling Now:


As we continue our Boulder to Baja adventure, let us remain steadfast in our commitment to empowering youth mental health. The evidence is clear: connecting with nature and discovering purpose are potent remedies for mental well-being. Together, let us support the next generation in navigating life’s complexities with strength, resilience, and a profound connection to the healing power of nature.  

To read more empowering articles and share your voice in our EmpowerGen column,  visit our website: Join the ‘EmpowerGen’ Revolution – Dream Tank (



1: Youth data 2023 | Mental Health America 4: Kids’ mental health is in crisis. Here’s what psychologists are doing to help | American Psychological Association 2: Prevalence Data 2023 | Mental Health America 3: Mental Health Statistics (2023) – Forbes Health

National Academy of Sciences – Nature and Mental Health:

University of Minnesota – Environmental Projects and Well-Being:

American Psychological Association – Social Connections and Mental Health:

1: 11 Tips to Support Someone Struggling With Mental Health | U.S. News

2: Tips For How to Help a Person with Mental Illness | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

3: How to Help Someone Who’s Having a Mental Health Crisis | GoodRx 4: Helping others with mental health problems – Every Mind Matters | NHS

Heidi Cuppari, a graduate of Brown University, is a pioneering figure in the fields of sustainable financing, impact investing, youth entrepreneurship, and women's leadership. Having moved to Boulder in 2006, she has spent nearly two decades contributing to the growth and development of the impact investing and social entrepreneurship community in the city. With a personal life as vibrant as her professional one, Heidi is a devoted mother and an integral part of a close-knit family. She started a family legacy art gallery and celebration space called Cuppari Mondo Bello, in collaboration with her children and her father, the acclaimed Italian artist Pasquale Cuppari. This venture was initiated to uplift her father during the challenging times of COVID-19, and it has since morphed into an avenue for social impact through the amplification of consciousness-evoking art. In her career and volunteer activities, Heidi strives to align global social impact with collective action. As the founder of Island17 and Dream Tank, and as a council member of The Digital Economist, she continually advances her mission of fostering a healed planet and peaceful world. She recently co-created the Playa Puertecito Collaborative, an initiative aimed at building a sustainable community on the Sea of Cortez. Her work emphasizes the power of collective impact and highlights the importance of giving a voice to the younger generation in shaping our shared future. Heidi's 'Financial Attunement' sessions demonstrate her ability to blend traditional financial client support with innovative, relationship-based models. These sessions offer a new approach to finance, connecting meaning with money and helping others align their financial resources with their deeper purpose.