Awards Plus

Supporting Young People to Achieve

Do one wild thing each day for the entire month of June. That’s the challenge set by The Wildlife Trusts’ annual 30 Days Wild challenge. Friends of the Award/Awards Plus is no stranger to getting out and about with young people on activities and expeditions, but perhaps not every single day.  

So, for June, could staff, Trustees, volunteers, partners and young people make sure that a daily dose of nature was experienced at least once? 

From outdoor meetings to walk-and-talk 1:1 Mentoring sessions, from school expeditions to end-of-term picnics, the answer has been a resounding YES! See below for a summary of wild encounters. 

Has it made a difference to what we do? It’s given an extra focus, a discussion point. Some groups have integrated it as a DofE Expedition aim. One young person who has additional needs faced significant challenges during their East Lothian expedition. Keeping a wildflower photo journal around campsites between Torness and Yellowcraigs gave a welcome opportunity for creativity; as one of their talents is making digital cartoons it offered plenty of inspiration for new characters and backdrops.  

Expeditions to previously unknown venues or neglected nearby nature have created new horizons. Reflections of “I’m coming back here with my family”, “I didn’t know we had this so close” and “Now I have camping skills I can do this on my own this summer” have been noted by teaching colleagues and staff. 

A recognition of the value of nature settings has been prompted, especially when talking about mental health support matters. “Calming”, “peaceful”, “relaxing” have been typical comments during 1:1 Mentoring sessions. Noticing nature, sensory encounters, describing and identifying wildlife – all have created opportunities for discussion and reflection.  

For staff, it’s brought a vital working context to the foreground. “Having a nudge, a reminder, works well for me. I then make sure that nature stuff is front and centre when supporting someone’s involvement in DofE, a John Muir Award or a Heritage Hero Award.” And it’s prompted more connections too. “Outdoor meetings and sharing these everyday nuggets – I’ve loved seeing what others have been up to. And it’s encouraged those ‘added value’ things, like a quick walk along the Water of Leith with a colleague after sorting a kit pick-up.” 

We may not manage 365 wild days in a year, but nature connectedness is at the heart of supporting awards involvement, particularly for young people who face barriers, have restricted access or limited experiences. With dappled woodland light, wildlife sightings and memorable sunsets, our 30 Days Wild has been a resounding success captured in shared moments and cracking photographs.  

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