A wildlife project involving students from Calder High School has been deemed a success after encouraging young people to get outdoors and address difficult issues.
Youth Rise Rooted was a pilot project run by Live Wild, a local Wilderness Education Organisation based in Calderdale.
The project was designed to work with teenagers in the outdoors to enable them to build practical skills in bushcraft and nature awareness alongside improved social and emotional wellbeing.
The programme combines the therapeutic environment with a nature connection programme of learning that supports the young people to address difficult issues around identity, self-esteem, grief, belonging, friendship and self-expression.
Using a range of activities and games that included tree climbing, den building, fire making, whittling, and sitting still and alone for short periods of time, the young people were able to explore new areas of interest, develop new skills and find confidence in things that they had never had the chance to try.
The programme included around 30 students from Calder High School and took place once a week throughout one half term and culminated in a three day residential camp at Heightgate Hostel near Todmorden at the end of last year.
Students were able to put the skills they had learned throughout the project into practice.
They planted over 100 trees as part of a land restoration programme which was part of the project’s aims to generate social action for change.
They also experienced a night quest where they each chose a spot outside on the hillside and sat still and alone at dusk for 90 minutes to experience solitude and peace in nature.
Feedback from the students was very positive with most reporting a greater love for the outdoors, greater sense of connection to the local woodlands, improved self-esteem and a desire to do more activities in the outdoors in the future and be part of a sustainable future.
Leona Johnson, from Live Wild, said: “Hopefully this will be the first of many.
“We strongly feel that all teenagers will benefit from supported time in nature, where they get to push their boundaries and explore appropriate risk taking in a safe way.
“They also get to contribute to society in a healthy way.
“As a way of balancing the overpowering domination of screen based culture through this programme they have been able to develop a better sense of who they are and what they want in the world with time to reflect and just be themselves in the natural environment.”