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The power of the outdoors

Youth Adventure Trust
Youth Adventure Trust

CJS readers will no doubt understand that being outdoors can be the perfect antidote to life’s stresses and strains. At the Youth Adventure Trust, we have been using the ‘power of the outdoors’ to transform the lives of vulnerable young people for more than 25 years.

It might be easy to forget that for a vulnerable 11 year old, the world can be a confusing and daunting place. Often, this is because of circumstances out of their control.  It may be school ground politics, chaotic homelives, a life of poverty, the pressure of being a young carer or living in care, erosion of self esteem due to bullying or a lack of positive role models.

(Image: YAT)
(Image: YAT)

"The biggest difference I have noticed is my confidence and how resilient I am”. Kristy, age 13

Kristy has a tough family life. Things can get violent at home and she is very quiet at school.

The hurdles they face may seem insurmountable, but we believe that engaging with these typically ‘hard to reach’ young people at an early stage, age 11, and supporting them through to age 16, will have a real mpact on their future lives. It’s not about removing their challenges; it’s about using the outdoors to equip these young people with the resilience to overcome them and enabling them to reach their full potential.

We believe that learning in an outdoors environment is a key aspect of a young person’s development. Since we began, over 25 years ago, we have used the ‘power of the outdoors’ to help these young people start to believe in themselves, build resilience and develop the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face, make sound decisions, form positive friendships, exceed their expectations and achieve their full potential. Being in the outdoors inspires the young people we work with, making a lasting difference to their lives.

(Image: YAT)
(Image: YAT)

"I have more respect for nature and the outdoors". Olly, age 14

Olly has a poor school attendance record and finds it really hard to make friends. He spends his free time playing computer games in his bedroom.

The specially designed Youth Adventure Programme includes 3 residential camps in the Brecon Beacons, the Jurassic Coast and the Forest of Dean, as well as 8 different outdoor activity days. Their journey lasts 3 school years (from year 7 to year 9) with some young people going on to receive additional support through our mentoring scheme. All young people who complete the programme are eligible to apply for a bursary of up to £150 before they leave school, to allow them to pursue their outdoor (and other) interests – recent applications include hiking boots, tents and sleeping bags.

The young people don’t have to pay anything to join the Youth Adventure Programme, we cover the cost of their accommodation, transport, food, kit, activity instruction and anything else they might need to participate. However, each place on our programme costs us an average of £3,600. We don’t receive any government funding and so rely on the generosity of individuals, groups and companies to carry out our work.

To celebrate our 25th anniversary we launched our exciting plans to double the number of young people we work with each year, from 240 to 480, by 2021. We’re already halfway there, but we need help if we are to achieve our goal and enable more youngsters to benefit from the ‘power of the outdoors’.

(Image: YAT)
(Image: YAT)

If you would like to support our work, need an excuse to spend a couple of nights in the beautiful Snowdonia National Park and are looking to take on a challenge then our Hike Bike Paddle 2019 event could be just the thing.

The event, supported by Ordnance Survey and the Outdoor Industries Association, is especially for people who work in the outdoor sector. It is a team challenge, for between 4 and 6 people, and includes an 18km hike or trail run, 50km off road bike ride and 2km paddle on a self-built raft. Participants can choose to take on the whole challenge, or ‘pick and mix’ within their team. 70km all in one day in recognition of Britain’s National Parks’ 70th anniversary this year.

For more information and to sign up visit www.hikebikepaddle.co.uk

For more information about the Youth Adventure Trust and other ways you can get involved please visit www.youthadventuretrust.org.uk or contact Louise Balaam on 07904 037525 or louise@youthadventuretrust.org.uk