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Full Circle Expeditions Empowers Youth Through Interactive School Visits



Full Circle Expeditions is motivated to create a school tour to inspire children and plant a seed for mountain climbing, particularly among children of color. We aim to reach 10 schools in 2024 with interactive experiences that educate and change perspectives on belonging in nature.


On May 12, 2022, the Full Circle Everest expedition became the first all-Black team to summit Mount Everest. Two years later, Full Circle Expeditions has been celebrating their massive feat with the world. Team members have given almost 50 presentations and educated communities on their historic climb. These presentations have taken place at galas, climbing gyms, community events, ice climbing workshops, and more. It wasn’t long until Phil Henderson, Full Circle Expeditions founder, identified the one demographic that wasn’t hearing their stories: young people  


“I wasn't setting people up for the future,” Henderson reflects,”you have to plant a seed in children so that they just have an idea of something they might want to try. They need exposure!” 

Henderson keeps a picture that was drawn for the team while they were up at Everest Base Camp. A Black kindergartener from the Turner Drew Academy in Chicago drew a picture with the words “I want to try mountain climbing”. In more ways than one, this drawing provided Henderson with the motivation throughout the Everest expedition. Now he aims to return the favor. 


“We want everyone to hear our message, but we don’t want anyone to miss it.” Henderson stresses: “Folks in our [Black and brown] communities just miss it, so we have to intentionally create space. We have to intentionally get in front of children of color because they aren’t exposed to these activities. No one else is going to do that”. 


Henderson set a goal of visiting 10 schools in 2024 to introduce kids to mountaineering and the Full Circle Everest Expedition, as well as climbing, and other outdoor activities. With the help from other team members, and sponsors such as The North Face, Yeti, Smartwool, Osprey Packs and a few others, he has already visited 6. “Each visit looks a little different,” Henderson explains “the younger K-6 kids are really interested and have a lot of questions. The older kids are more interested in being cool, so we have to front-load them with information and have a teacher moderate”. Henderson hopes to make these school visits more interactive, bringing props like tents and sleeping bags, teaching kids to use a camp stove or a climbing harness.


Full Circle Expeditions has presented at the Turner Drew Academy, UIC College Prep School in Chicago, Battlerock School, Bayfield Middle School in Colorado, Summit Tahoma School, San Jose CA, and the Muckleshoot Tribal School in Washington State. Henderson emphasizes the importance of reaching children directly and in person, and highlights the power of interactive experiences in fostering empathy and understanding among students of different backgrounds. Full Circle Expeditions aims to continue our school visits in the fall/winter of 2024. If you would like Full Circle Expeditions to visit your school please reach out to vanessachavarriaga@gmail.com for more information. We would like to thank The North Face, Yeti, Fits Socks, and Osprey packs for supporting our school tour. 



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