Awards Plus

Supporting Young People to Achieve

Expeditions. Day walks. Walk-and-talk 1:1 meet-ups. Walking is at the heart of Friends of the Award. This May, National Walking Month, we’re excited to start using ‘Proxy Walks’ in our work with young people across Edinburgh and the Lothians. 

What’s a Proxy Walk?  

“The idea is that someone, anyone, will make a walk in a place for someone else, bringing back a description of it”, says artist Alec Finlay. Alec has explored the concept of ‘walking-without-walking’ as a response to Long Covid and debilitating disease, recognising that walks encourage acts of solidarity and empathy. The shared experience of a walk can help people feel less isolated and recover a sense of belonging. “It’s a very simple idea, but also very powerful, because it returns the idea of belonging in the world, on or a hill, to someone who feels they can’t.” 

In a nutshell: make a walk, in a place, for someone else. 

At Friends of the Award we’re exploring Proxy Walks as part of nature-based youth awards. DofE Expeditions and the John Muir Award Share Challenge offer great tie-ins, for example. We’re using opportunities as they arise in our Open Programme, in 1:1 Mental Health support work, in schools and youth club settings. 

A Proxy Walk might be for a housebound relative. For someone who’s ill, hospitalised, or less mobile than they used to be. For a resident in an old folks’ home. They may have special memories of a particular place. Or just appreciate sharing in a walking experience. 

We’ll collect and share Proxy Walks throughout 2023. Find out more about how to get involved with this summary and let us know about yours via, #ProxyWalks. 

For more background see this Alec Finlay blog for Paths for All.