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Forest Holidays funding to help more young people experience the benefits of nature in National Park

Forest Holidays are lending their support to help widen opportunities for young people to get out and active in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

As part of a partnership deal with the UK’s National Parks, funding received from Forest Holidays will be used to expand the National Park Authority’s programme of activity for the ‘Year of Young People’.

The funding will allow young people to experience a residential programme; special volunteer activities and offering more school pupils the chance to take part in the Junior Ranger Programme. Young people taking part in the activities will also be able to create and star in their own films to celebrate their achievements throughout the year.

Thanks to the support from Forest Holidays, this year pupils from the Vale of Leven Academy will be taking part in the National Park Junior Ranger programme for the first time . The newly extended programme builds on the already successful scheme with pupils from Balfron High School and McLaren High School taking part earlier this year.

Balfron High School Junior Rangers on Ben A'an

The Junior Ranger programme delivers a unique hands-on experience for young people, allowing them to develop an understanding of nature in the National Park and the challenges of balancing conservation and environmental protection with welcoming visitors and the needs of residents.

Catriona Manders, a S2 pupil from McLaren High School, said: “Junior Rangers was an amazing experience and I feel very fortunate to have taken part. The variety of activities mixed with a brilliant group made this week a time of laughter, fun and memories I will never forget.”

Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “We’re delighted that with support from Forest Holidays, we can further extend how Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park actively engages with young people to learn and benefit more from the outdoors, this year and beyond. This has helped us to reach out to more young people in and around our National Park, to provide them with the chance to develop a positive relationship with nature, one which they can return to the outdoors to develop and enjoy in years to come.”

Bruce McKendrick, Chief Executive Officer of Forest Holidays, said: “We are incredibly proud to be working with the UK National Parks in order to help young people experience and enjoy the UK’s special landscapes. A recent report found that three quarters of children today spend less time outside than prison inmates, an unacceptable situation which we all need to work to rectify.

“Forest Holidays’ core purpose is to help the British public enjoy the UK’s forests, which is only possible through our unwavering commitment to protecting and enhancing natural landscapes and habitats, as well as to public ownership of and access to woodland spaces.”

The partnership is part of a UK wide agreement with Forest Holidays and all 15 UK National Parks driven by a shared ambition to empower young people to engage with nature, both to improve their well-being and to ensure that National Parks are valued, understood and cared for into the future.

Chair of National Parks Partnerships, Steve Curl said: “Children in the UK need more opportunities to explore and learn in our wonderful National Parks. Forest Holidays is helping us to make this a reality for 6,000 young people across the UK this year. We look forward to developing a long-term partnership from 2019 that has potential to engage thousands more young people.”

Increasing opportunities for young people to engage with nature and enjoy the great outdoors is one of the key aims in the National Park Partnership Plan.

For further information on Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority education materials and programmes visit www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/learning

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