Matthew Mizukawa

Founder, Get Outside

Matthew Mizukawa, DMD is a native of Ft. Washington, MD in the suburbs of Washington, DC, but moved to St. George, UT in 1994. He graduated from Pine View High School in 1996, then went to Brigham Young University for one year before serving a full time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fukuoka, Japan. Upon returning from Japan, he resumed his undergraduate studies at BYU, where he graduated with a BS in Neuroscience. He continued his education at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where he received his Doctorate of Dental Medicine in 2007. He then moved to Nashville, TN where he completed a residency in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Vanderbilt University in 2011. He taught full time in the residency program at Vanderbilt from 2012-2014, at which time he returned to St. George to join Dixie Oral Maxillofacial and Implant Surgery, the practice that his father established.

Dr. Mizukawa and his wife, Julie, have 6 children. He and Julie share the same passion for the outdoors and love to rock climb, mountain bike, camp, snowboard, wakeboard, hike, backpack, and anything else that gets them and their kids into the outdoors. They also share a deep concern for the youth, and the lifestyle choices many of them are adopting. These lifestyles often center so much on technology and result in sedentary life. This combination has proven to be detrimental to not only physical health, but more seriously, mental health. Rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, and other mental health concerns have skyrocketed over the past 20 years. It was out of this concern that they developed Get Outside, a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization that aims to simply get the community, in particular the youth, into the outdoors and engaging in outdoor recreation. Why the outdoors? There is a large body of literature that shows a strong association between outdoor recreation and improvement in physical health, as well as additional and profound positive effects on mental health, including decreased symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc.

The name Get Outside has 3 degrees of significance. They strive to help the youth:

  1. Get Outside and recreate in the vast natural resources of southern Utah.
  2. Get Outside of their comfort zones to do things that they perceive are difficult or impossible, which in turn builds confidence and character.
  3. Get Outside of themselves by performing service for the community.

They have found 3 major barriers that youth encounter in getting outside:

  1. Lack of opportunity
  2. Lack of education/training
  3. Lack of finances

To help the youth overcome these barriers, Get Outside has established Get Outside Clubs in many of the high schools in Washington and Iron Counties. Students can join these clubs free of charge and meet other kids who participate in many of these outdoor recreational activities. Each club is encouraged to plan and execute an outdoor activity each month, providing opportunities for the youth to get outside. In addition, Get Outside periodically hosts events for all schools. For example, they took a large group of students to Brian Head to ski/snowboard. They have sponsored large events for mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, wakeboarding/surfing, and scuba diving, providing education and training to the youth so that they can eventually do these activities independent of Get Outside. Get Outside has also established relations with businesses and entities in the community that can provide resources for these youth, either for free or at a reduced rate, mitigating the financial barriers to the outdoors.

Much of the success of Get Outside is attributed to the spirit of volunteerism in the community. Members of the community who have knowledge and talent in the various outdoor recreational activities have anxiously donated their time, talents, and equipment to help these youth. It is inspiring to see the community mobilize for this cause.