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Davis Journal

Teacher creates business to help teens struggling with mental illness

Mar 17, 2022 10:59AM ● By Becky Ginos

During the summers, South Davis Junior High French teacher Nicki Preece is a hiking guide in Switzerland.

BOUNTIFUL—South Davis Junior High teacher Nicki Preece sees kids every day who are struggling with mental health issues. In an effort to get these kids the help they need, Preece has started a T-shirt business YOU + MOUNTAINS whose mission is to give kids an outdoor experience while providing mental health care access.

“A lot of kids are struggling with these things,” said Preece. “There’s a disconnect to get them the resources they need.”

The T-shirts have upbeat messages that are outdoorsy and encouraging, she said. “My pledge right now is 50 percent of sales will go to this cause. There’s no profit right now but I want each purchase to mean something. I’ve already made some donations to other organizations.”

Preece said she is starting out small but she hopes her business will grow into that mission and fulfill it. “So far there’s been a positive response. I’m trying to get the word out as much as possible.”

She has partnered with Big City Mountaineers, who provide inner city youth with outdoor experiences, and MeWater Foundation. “It’s a program in the Bay Area that was started by a social worker,” said Preece. “They take kids whose parents are incarcerated surfing using a trauma-informed approach. These two organizations have been so responsive. They’re kind, good people trying to do good things.”

Unfortunately, it took personal experience to get this started, Preece said. “My eyes were opened three years ago when I was diagnosed with PTSD. I was amazed at the treatment that’s available but it can be expensive. If you don’t have insurance that can be hard. I looked into scholarships for kids who need trauma treatment and I didn’t find anything. I’d like to create a separate foundation just for scholarships.”

During the summer Preece is a hiking guide in Switzerland. “I know the benefits of being outdoors, away from screens and connecting with people,” she said. “That’s how I came up with the idea to create a T-shirt line that provides outdoor adventure with mental health care access to teens.”

YOU + MOUNTAINS has been in business since September. “I’ve probably sold about 100 T-shirts so far,” said Preece. “I’ve mostly spread the word among family and friends. So far I've had a positive response. I hope it will do some good.”