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The outdoors has always been a big part of our family’s life. My husband and I met rock climbing and loved to spend all our free time outside. We continued this lifestyle after becoming parents and began raising our kids to appreciate and love nature. However, after my children and I were in an accident our world flipped upside down and I quickly realized just how important the outdoors were to us. It wasn’t just a hobby, but something that we needed to heal.

Our journey began simply while on a walk. The fall air was crisp, yet the sun was warm as I pushed my two young boys, ages 3 years and 18 months, in our double stroller just a few blocks from our home. It was something we did often but this time was different. We were about halfway through the crosswalk when a distracted driver came around the corner. The driver did not see the flashing crosswalk lights, or us. We were hit by their car. The stroller, with my babies inside, took the brunt of the impact.

Thankfully l I had training as an Advanced EMT because I had to help my kids until the ambulance could arrive. I’ve seen a lot of hard things working in the ER of a Trauma 1 Center, but nothing that could’ve prepared me for trying to save my own babies lives. Luckily the ambulance and helicopters arrived quickly and my boys were flown to the children’s hospital. 

My boys spent a few days in the ICU and then a few weeks in the hospital. Their injuries were series but we felt grateful they were alive. We were finally sent home from the hospital, but it was just the beginning of our road to recovery.

My youngest had broken his neck, pelvis, and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. His was unable to move the left side of his body and we were not sure if he would ever be able to walk again. Because of the extend of his brain injury and the fact he was so young, the doctors weren’t able to tell us if he’d ever fully recover.



So we began doing therapy. Lots of therapy. Between physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, feeding therapy, and various followup appointments we were at the doctors 4-5 days a week. All of the therapists and doctors were so amazing and helpful but I could tell how stressful it was on my boys, and as a result myself. We we’re ready to get back into a normal routine.


It was now Spring and we were itching to get outside like “old times”. I no longer felt safe walking in our neighborhood though. Just thinking about crosswalks sent me into a full blown panic attack. So instead of taking our walks on the sidewalk, we started taking them on the trails. My youngest on my back since he still wasn’t able to walk, and my oldest by my side holding my hand. We felt safe on the trails and it’s where we found peace during a very stressful time.

When we were out there I could see a change within my boys. They began to looked like the carefree kids they were before the accident. The tension and worry they’d been carrying with them since the hospital slowly evaporated. My oldest began gaining confidence, hiking on his own, and exploring. I could feel a difference within myself too. The anxiety and PTSD I’d been dealing with began to improve. I treasured these moments in nature with my boys, away from all the distractions of the world and being able to enjoy the second chance we were given. Being in nature was therapeutic to us in so many ways.  



Nature wasn’t just helping us heal mentally though. It also helped my boys heal physically. As soon as my youngest began learning to walk again he wanted to start “hiking”. So I’d take him out of the kid-carrier pack and let him walk. Just a step or two before he’d fall. He didn’t let it stop him though and would get right back up and try again until he was exhausted. Each time going one step further.

It turns out hiking was the best physical therapy for him. It was fun and varied enough that he didn’t get bored practicing like he would doing PT exercises at home. The uneven terrain was also great for improving his strength, coordination, and balance. We were even able to sneak in some speech therapy by naming things we saw on the trail. His first word post-accident was on the trail - “bug”. So we kept hiking. A lot. His determination kept him going, and each time he would hike a little bit further. 

Soon he was able to take 4-5 steps without falling. Then ten. He went from only walking a couple feet to a mile. Then two. He learned to jump again by jumping off rocks & logs on the side of the trail. Then he learned to run. All the while learning how to be confident and brave. 

Fast forward two years and he is the best little hiker and has come further than the doctors or I ever thought possible. Nature not only helped heal us but also taught us that we can do hard things. The trails are still our happy place…

The outdoors has always been a big part of our family’s life. My husband and I met rock climbing and loved to spend all our free time outside. We continued this lifestyle after becoming parents and began raising our kids to appreciate and love nature. However, after my children and I were in an accident our world flipped upside down and I quickly realized just how important the outdoors were to us. It wasn’t just a hobby, but something that we needed to heal.

LAST UPDATED

October 3, 2023

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Brighton Peachy

Hi, I’m Brighton! I believe the adventures don’t stop when you have kids. I’m here to help you get outside and adventure with your little ones. As a mountain mama to 3 boys and a Wilderness EMT with years of experience working for Search and Rescue I’m here to help you feel confident with the skills you need to head into the backcountry with your kids.

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