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‘More than a school project’: Girdwood girl raising money to get other kids outside

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 7:34 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The great outdoors is where 13-year-old Rebecca Tyler finds herself most comfortable. Throughout the course of the pandemic, she attributes any success she’s had in feeling normal to her ability to get outside and enjoy what Alaska has to offer. Now, she’s turning a class project into a service project to help other kids find that clarity.

From Girdwood, Rebecca has been skiing since she was 18 months old. Today, her love of skiing has brought her to the competition level in freeskiing. She said her last competition was in Washington in March, right around when the pandemic was about to take off in the U.S.

For a while, she said the pandemic had her down. She couldn’t compete, nor could she see her friends as often as she was used to being out of school. One day over the summer, she said she snapped out of it and got on her fat bike.

“I think that fresh air, and just like clearing your head was so important for me,” she said, “because I couldn’t go and see people and talk to people, and normally that’s how you kind of get things out, but you know just being with myself outside was my way of dealing with all the crazy stuff.”

In her home school program, Rebecca was tasked with a web design project that had the effort of doing something positive. After some thinking, she came up with the idea to help other kids get outside as much as she does.

So Big Air Becca was launched. It’s become a bit more than a class project now, says Rebecca.

On her site, she explains how important getting into nature is for her mental health, and that she wants to help other kids overcome barriers to having similar experiences as she does.

She sells merchandise designed by herself and made by small manufacturing companies and collects donations. Right now, she said she’s still in the collection phase, but are talking to a number of programs that support the same cause she does.

“Anything from gear to transportation to instruction is what we’re all about,” she said.

It was a bit of a complicated process that required a touch of adult supervision. That’s where her dad, Ethan Tyler, came in to help in minor ways.

“Well, she’s not old enough to have a bank account or a credit card processing platform. So just getting some of that stuff set up on her behalf,” Ethan Tyler said.

That’s really the extent of his help the way Ethan Tyler puts it. Although, he does get the credit of being the person to put her on skis and introduce her to the great outdoors in the first place. He said he didn’t know that such a big idea would come out of such a little skier when they first started.

“Stand behind your kids when they’ve got big ideas and you’d be surprised at what they come up with,” he said.

Rebecca said she’s going to continue to collect funds and find the right program to give them to to fulfill her mission. After the assignment is turned in, she said she plans on pushing Big Air Becca even further.

“I think it meant a lot to me,” she said. “Like this wasn’t just a school project.”

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