Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2017

Currently: 54° — Complete forecast

This is a press release submitted to the Las Vegas Sun. It has not been verified or edited by the Sun.

Press Release

Blind and Sighted Students United to Raft Grand Canyon

Published on Mon, Oct 1, 2012 (9:17 a.m.)


Blind and Sighted Students United to Raft Grand Canyon

HENDERSON, NV-October 1, 2012—Coronado High School junior Morgan Smith was one of ten teens selected nationwide to participate in the 2012 Global Explorers Leading the Way program to the Grand Canyon for 12 days in July. The Leading the Way team was made up of five blind and visually impaired students and five sighted students from across the United States. In April, Smith, received training for the expedition and met her nine other teammates for the first time during a No Barriers Leadership retreat in Empire, CO.

The three-phase Leading the Way program includes preparatory curriculum prior to travel, a life-changing travel experience and a service leadership project post-travel. Each component aims to foster responsible global citizenship and an understanding that everyone has a role to play in making a positive difference in our world today.

During the first phase of the program Smith and her nine teammates completed four conference calls, where they discuss topics such as Grand Canyon history, leadership and service learning. From April 13-15, the participants converged in Colorado for a weekend retreat where they learned guiding techniques, practiced communication systems and spent valuable time bonding as a team.

“The unique part of this program is that team members prepare thoroughly for the adventure by studying the environment and culture, learning crucial techniques for navigating and flourishing in a rugged landscape, and developing the leadership and team work skills required to complete the journey,” said Erik Weihenmayer, world-renowned blind adventurer and co-founder of the Global Explorers Leading the Way program.

In July, Smith and her teammates spent 12 days shattering expectations and using adversity to their advantage as they explored science, culture, leadership and service in Grand Canyon National Park. The blind and sighted team rafted the upper half of the Colorado River, conducted service on the canyon rim with Grand Canyon National Park rangers, and hiked slot canyons only accessible from the river. Global Explorers provides this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by partnering with the non-profit, Grand Canyon Youth, and the U.S. National Park Service.

About the Global Explorers Leading the Way Program:
Academically rigorous and designed for those who want to make a difference in the world, the Leading the Way program was developed by Global Explorers in partnership with Weihenmayer and is open to blind, visually impaired and sighted students between the ages of 15 and 19. Leading the Way teaches the concept of ‘no barriers’ leadership and equips students to break down barriers between those with and without disabilities.

In October, Global Explorers will begin accepting applications for the 2013 Leading the Way program. Learn more by visiting (click Leading the Way) or by calling 877-627-1425.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Morgan, contact:
Jess Whyte, Leading the Way Program Intern
877-627-1425 | [email protected]

Participating Organizations and People:

Global Explorers
Global Explorers is a nonprofit organization based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Global Explorers is passionate about providing the most comprehensive and genuine travel experience available to students and educators of all backgrounds and abilities. Developed in partnership with Erik Weihenmayer, its nationally-recognized Leading the Way program, is open to blind, visually impaired and sighted students, ages 15 to 19. (

Grand Canyon Youth
Grand Canyon Youth is a nonprofit organization based in Flagstaff, Arizona. Their mission is to give youth an experiential education along the rivers and in the canyons of the Southwest in an effort to promote environmental awareness, community involvement, personal growth and teamwork among people of diverse backgrounds. (

Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon was established as a national park on February 26, 1919. Located in Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon is operated by the National Park Service and is known for its powerful and inspiring landscape, it overwhelms one's senses through its immense size; 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep - Grand Canyon National Park encompasses over 1.2 million acres.

Erik Weihenmayer
On May 25, 2001, Erik Weihenmayer became the only blind man in history to reach the summit of the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest. Additionally, he is the only blind person to have climbed the “Seven Summits,” the tallest peak on every continent. (

Most Popular