Children with Mercy Housing in Denver to participate in fishing clinic Tuesday
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Colorado Parks and Wildlife, along with guest angler instructor Malik Wilder of FishingForHiphop.com, is hosting a youth fishing clinic for children with Mercy Housing on Tuesday at Lake Lehow in Littleton from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The fishing clinic is being offered to 30 children out of Mercy’s Denver housing locations with transportation, lunch and fishing gear being provided. Each participant will receive a free fishing rod from Wilder after the clinic.
Wilder is flying in from Atlanta to co-host Tuesday’s fishing clinic. An expert fisherman with over 25 years of experience, Wilder’s skill as an angler is only surpassed by his passion for engaging youth participation in fishing and the outdoors. He brings a unique approach to youth engagement, using hip-hop culture as a bridge between something kids already know and love and fishing, an otherwise new and unfamiliar activity.
“As a lifelong fisherman and overall lover of Mother Nature, it’s an honor for me to be able to teach the youth of Colorado life skills through fishing,” Wilder said. “I’m so excited to share my unique perspective on the outdoor lifestyle, how it can apply to everyday life situations, all types of people from different walks of life and it doesn’t matter what their circumstance may be.
“I share a similar background with a lot of the youth that I’ll be meeting with from Mercy Housing and I can’t wait to connect with them on the water.”
CPW Director Dan Prenzlow, in his first week on the job, is excited for many of these kids who will get to go fishing for the first time.
"It's always a great day when you can introduce kids, young adults and adults to the outdoors, and hopefully, a life-long love of fishing," Prenzlow said. "We are excited to partner with Mercy Housing to host this event and be a part of these new experiences in nature. Creating a connection through shared outdoor experiences not only helps us learn, but provides a unique bond with the environment that becomes a part of who we are as people. When kids feel connected they are truly free to reach their full potential and fishing is a great way for kids to start exploring the outdoors and connect to the natural world."
Both Prenzlow and CPW Commissioner Taishya Adams, representative of outdoor recreation and utilization of park resources from Boulder, will be in attendance Tuesday.
“As one of the newest Commissioners on CPW, I am excited to see the agency walk the talk towards equity and inclusion by providing authentic community engagement opportunities,” Adams said. “Activities like these bring CPW’s mission - to educate and inspire current and future generations to serve as active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources - to life! CPW is well positioned to break down structural barriers to access and to support a climate of collective responsibility in the outdoors for all Coloradans.”
Now in its 38th year, Mercy Housing is the largest national affordable housing provider. With a presence in 41 states, Mercy Housing develops, preserves, manages and finances affordable housing, serving tens of thousands of people every day.
“Fishing is a perfect way to get children engaged in their environment and feel like they truly belong in their communities,” said Kate Peterson, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications with Mercy Housing. “Affordable housing alone cannot adequately address the complex problems created by poverty. It’s critical to provide services that include field trips like this one if we are going to help low-income families get on their feet and support them to raise children who will be happy, healthy and successful adults.”
CPW personnel will help with tips, suggestions and techniques to help young anglers learn the basics, giving them enough knowledge to take up the activity on their own, or with friends or parents.
The heavily stocked Lake Lehow is a Denver Water property leased by CPW and serves as a key location for introducing people to the love on fishing and the outdoors. It resides on the east side of the Waterton Canyon parking lot, off Waterton Canyon Road.
The lake is full of bluegills, largemouth bass and is periodically stocked with rainbow trout.
About Malik Wilder
Malik Wilder is lifelong, expert fisherman with over 25 years of experience. Wilder's skill as an angler is only surpassed by his passion for engaging youth participation in fishing and the outdoors. Wilder has a unique approach to youth engagement, using hiphop culture as a bridge between something kids already know and love and fishing, an otherwise new and unfamiliar activity. Breaking the mold, Wilder's bold approach to community outreach has proven effective through his work as the founder of the non-profit organization Finding Inspiration-Sharing Hope (F.I.S.H.), as a certified fishing instructor for the youth program Community Fishing League, a volunteer who teaches life skills and sustainability for Georgia's Division of Natural Resources, and as the CEO of the production company, "Fishing For Hiphop, LLC", which is producing a fishing tv show.
Completely aware of the racial disparity ever present in the fishing industry, Wilder lives his life as an example to the next generation of what outdoor recreation can mean for them. Instead of trying to assimilate to the norm as portrayed in the media of what it means to be a fisherman, Wilder embraces what is true to himself and the community he is engaging. This is a vital element in youth outreach. Kids don't want to (or need to) take up a sport perceived to "belong to" another culture, they need to learn a way to make it their own. This is where Wilder steps in. He knows the value in approaching novice anglers where they are, in spaces and styles they are comfortable in. You don't need to bring the fishing to them, you need to bring them as they are to fishing.