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A charity that ‘breaks down barriers’ to get young people outdoors

An AIDS charity has announced it is expanding a free training programme aimed at breaking down barriers that prevent young people from getting outdoors.

The Ramblers’ Out There Award was first launched in Scotland in 2019 and will now be offered to up to 70 people across the South West of England.

Events will be organised for 18-26 year olds in Bristol, Taunton and Bridgwater, regardless of background, budget or experience.

Kate Davis, Ramblers’ walking experience manager, said: “We know that the Out There Award has the most positive impact for people who face the biggest barriers to accessing nature.”

The two-day program offers people the opportunity to learn basic outdoor skills.

Heather Thomson, from Glasgow, completed the award in 2022 and said the experience was “invaluable”.

“I had a family that wasn’t very active outdoors and gathering the necessary equipment can be a daunting and expensive task,” she said.

“I remember thinking, ‘Where do I start?'”

The charity helps connect participants with local walking groups (The Ramblers)

The program is designed for young people interested in gaining skills, making new friends, or improving their health through gentler walking.

The Ramblers charity said a lack of walking partners, knowledge of where to walk or finding time to get out into nature are all reasons why young people struggle to get outdoors.

Ms Davis said: “We are excited to be able to offer the Out There Award in the South West for the first time.

“In this area of ​​England there are a large number of young people who do not have the funds to buy outdoor equipment or who have not had the opportunities and support to explore where they can walk.

“It’s also an area where many young people don’t have cars, so even getting to green areas can be intimidating.

“The Out There Award is designed to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible, so that everyone has the opportunity to get outside, feel safe and enjoy walking.”

After completing the program, 96% of participants reported feeling confident that they had the appropriate levels of skills and knowledge to walk safely.

This figure represents an increase of 36% compared to pre-award surveys.

Everyone who completes the prize will receive a free starter kit filled with outdoor essentials and a free year of Ramblers membership.

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