Natural Scenery

A ‘once in a generation chance’ to connect young people with nature – Sam Fernando

Sam Fernando, Sales Director at Keela.

As a business, we want to recognise this challenge and work with our partners and the outdoor industry to remove the existing barriers. The aim is to bring the undoubted benefits of time spent outdoors to people from all social backgrounds, abilities, sizes, and races.

In the last couple of years, the British outdoors has experienced a boom like never before, with many of us turning to national parks or local green spaces for a bit of sanity in the midst of a global pandemic.

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But here is the catch: the outdoors is far from accessible for everyone, and many don’t have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of nature and outdoor space. The reality is that more than two million families from across the UK spent lockdown without access to a garden or an outdoor space, and the impact of the pandemic on their mental health has been alarming.

Youngsters at the Outward Bound centre in Loch Eil.

Add to it the increasing amount of screen time and we have a real possibility that a significant number of children will never build a relationship with nature. Creating and strengthening a bond between young people and the outdoors is not only beneficial for their personal development but also for the future of our planet. The attitude towards the outdoor space is intrinsic to protecting the environment and preserving green spaces across the world.

We share a vision for the future with Outward Bound. And that’s why we have chosen them as one of our charity partners for 2021, including supporting their In School Adventure outreach programme, where they went out to schools who couldn’t travel to their outdoor centres during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This shared vision starts with a realisation that the mountains, rivers, flora and fauna that have been unaffected by the pandemic are out there waiting for all young people – and for many to experience them for the first time. Lockdown heightened our appreciation of the natural world and this is an opportunity to integrate this appreciation into our education models more holistically.

Thankfully, there are organisations like Outward Bound working tirelessly to remove the barriers and get more young people, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, to experience and learn many invaluable life skills through exciting outdoor education. This form of education is engaging and helps to ensure that no young person falls through the gaps. It focuses on developing essential skills – those highly transferable skills that everyone needs to support their use of specialist knowledge and technical skills. These skills (including problem solving, leadership and teamwork) have been linked to improved academic attainment, professional competencies, self-efficacy and social and emotional wellbeing. Post-pandemic, outdoor learning is an aspect of young people’s education that will be more relevant than ever.

We believe this is our ‘once in a generation chance’ to connect young people with nature and ensure it reaches its potential for all those struggling right now. We encourage everyone to join us and support the work of Outward Bound and through small donations make our outdoor community a better place. If you’d like to find out more about the work of Outward Bound in Scotland please visit outwardbound.org.uk/scotlandhttp://outwardbound.org.uk/scotland

Sam Fernando, Sales Director at Keela.


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