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Great Barrington Woman Completes Run Across Country for Youth Travel

Jim Levulis

A former high school teacher from Columbia County has completed a long trek to raise money so young people can have the opportunity to travel.

Rosalynn Frederick traveled across the country hoping to raise money so others would have the same opportunity. Well — not exactly the same. Frederick completed her cross-country trip on her own two feet, finishing in Connecticut earlier this month. The former Taconic Hills Junior/Senior High School Spanish teacher started the Youth Travel Fund to raise money to support middle and high school students who are interested in travel, but need financial support to do so.

“We’re interacting with people from different cultures and different countries on a regular basis," Frederick said. "The more that young people can have the opportunity to work with people from different places and really get to know them, I think that gives them an opportunity to be more successful in their future. Travel exposes us to so many valuable things that our world has to offer, different cultures, different people, the beauty of nature.”

The idea came from a trip to Costa Rica with 10 students from Taconic Hills during spring break 2010. Laura Davenport was on the trip and says it inspired her to study abroad in England for half a year, a trip she is just returning from.

“It was formative for a lot of us in terms of peaking our interest in travel and traveling to a country so vastly different from our own in terms of development and style of living," said Davenport.

Frederick says the roughly 3,000-mile journey that took less than five months has raised about $6,000, shy of her $10,000 goal.  At the end of the run, three writing contest winners were awarded grants from the Youth Travel Fund. Essays were submitted from students Frederick met at schools and in youth groups across the country during her run. The papers focused on how important travel is to young people and what impact it had on their lives. Alysha Gagnon graduated from Tech Valley High School in Rensselaer, New York and is entering her freshman year at Iona College. She received $100 for her first-place paper about a service trip she took to Haiti to plant 500 mango trees.

“So I’ll be putting that towards different fees and stuff for college and if I have extra money by any chance, if a college freshman can ever have that, I’d probably put it towards a future service project," said Gagnon.

Frederick’s goal is to be able to help teachers and youth groups plan and fundraise for community service trips. She says more money needs to be raised before her non-profit can financially support trips, but says the fundraising effort is picking up with $2,000 coming in the past two weeks. She says she realizes first-hand how busy teachers are with day-to-day tasks and she hopes to be a resource for them in making it financial possible for students to travel.

“Once they fund-raised for a certain portion of their trip then they would receive a scholarship that would help them for the remainder," Frederick said. "All of the students will contribute financially to their trip, whether it be through fundraising or other resources that they might have.”

Frederick plans to continue fundraising for her non-profit, with the hope of expanding nationally. Davenport credits Frederick and the experiences she had while in Costa Rica for fostering her independence.

“We are indebted to Rosalynn, but also just I think to each other and the entire trip was very altering for a lot of us," said Davenport. 

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