Stand under shaggy pines, walk through miles of prairie, douse yourself in the icy churn of a wild river. Can you do these things, and not feel changed? Perhaps even healed?

The nonprofit LEAP believes in this – a powerful link between the therapeutic grace of the wilderness and change. As part of the personal journey of its three co-founders, the organization seeks to connect trauma victims with the healing challenge of navigating rivers.

In 2008, LEAP launched its inaugural program, bringing burn survivors to the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. The program helped participants navigate the river and their own personal struggles. Through physical trials, comradeship and achievement, LEAP helped people rediscover self confidence and purpose. The program helped inspire participants to use the river as a metaphor for their lives, and to move on courageously into the future.

Today LEAP works with burn survivors, military veterans, at-risk youth, and others who have experienced trauma, death or hardship. A variety of programs and a supportive curriculum exists to help participants with different abilities, experience and confidence engage in the river-based wilderness healing experience.

This week at Portland Radio Project we featured LEAP as part of our award-winning Community Voices program. You can listen below to interviews with key members of this nonprofit organization: