School pupils joined Environment Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham today for a bike ride with a difference, to launch a five year plan for supporting people from different backgrounds to enjoy the great outdoors through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
The pupils from St Modan’s High School in Stirling, who all have additional support needs, demonstrated how they are able to experience the fantastic recreational activities on offer at the Park, thanks to a project that lends specially adapted bikes for children and young people with disabilities.
The Blazing Saddles project is run by FABB Scotland (Facilitating Access and Breaking Barriers), one of the third sector activity providers that the National Park Authority works with to increase opportunities to widen the health and wellbeing benefits of the Park for people of all abilities and backgrounds – which is one of the key themes of the National Park Partnership Plan 2018-2023.
The Plan sets out how all the groups involved in the management of the National Park can work together to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits for the whole of Scotland.
The school pupils took the Cabinet Secretary, National Park Authority Convener James Stuart, and Chief Executive Gordon Watson for a bike ride in Callander, and explained what benefits the project has had for them.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “Along with our partners at the National Park I’m delighted to be able to launch this plan, which aims to unlock the area’s ‘great outdoors’ for everyone. And it’s particularly encouraging to see the focus given to providing access for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to the National Park’s amazing resources.
“It’s great to see the ambition of the National Park Partnership Plan in trying to tackle issues that are key to young people – by providing skills and training opportunities, as well as creating more affordable housing within the park itself. That’s particularly important during 2018 – the Year of Young People.
“The Plan embodies the strong ambitions which the Park Authority and its partners share, across a number of key issues, for widening the benefits of the Park’s natural resources.
“At the Scottish Government we are continually striving to protect and enhance Scotland’s natural environment, whilst ensuring as many people as possible take advantage of the health and wellbeing benefits that it offers.”
Deputy Chief Executive Officer of FABB Scotland, Jan Brereton said: “We want to help make Scotland a happier and healthier place to live for everyone and break down the barriers facing people with disabilities.
“The adapted bikes are really popular and we work with a range of groups, such as the pupils St Modan’s, out of our base at Callander to give them that opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fantastic surroundings of the National Park and all the benefits it brings.
“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the National Park Authority to further widen those benefits to more groups of people.”
FABB Scotland is just one of over 70 organisations listed in the National Park Partnership Plan, which sets out 13 outcomes across conservation and land management, visitor experience and rural development.
Convener of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, James Stuart said: “The Partnership Plan sets out how, working collaboratively, we can tackle some really key issues not just locally but for the whole of Scotland.
“The focus is on big priorities that are most likely to make a lasting difference such as helping to tackle the impacts of climate change through extensive peatland and woodland restoration and innovative flood prevention projects; creating a sustainable population through affordable housing and the creation of employment and training for young people; and creating a world-class visitor experience.
“We’ve already seen some great partnership successes in recent years but this plan raises the level of ambition the Park and its partners share. The outcomes set out in the Plan are challenging but we are confident that by working together we can achieve a much greater impact and deliver huge benefits for Scotland.”
You can read the National Park Partnership Plan 2018-2023 in full here.
Watch a short film about the launch of the Plan here