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Young people help shape National Park’s future on first youth residential event

Last weekend 12 young people took part in a youth residential event hosted by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority to look back and celebrate the Year of Young People 2018 and plan future events.

The group aged between 11- 22 years packed their bags and headed to Rowardennan Youth Hostel on Friday 8th March to take part in the first ever youth residential organised by the National Park Authority.

The three day event was created to celebrate the range of initiatives and events the Park Authority held during last year’s Year of Young People and also as an opportunity to allow the young people attending to share their views on what else can be done in the future to encourage more young people to enjoy everything the National Park has to offer.

The group of young people who took part in the event are all members of the National Park Authority’s Youth Committee, Junior Rangers or Young Volunteering programme.  However this is the first time the groups have worked together to plan for the future and share thoughts and ideas.

The Youth Committee and Young Volunteering programme were specifically created to coincide with the Year of Young People to support young people to get out and experience the National Park and gain vital skills they can take with them into their everyday life and beyond.

As well as planning future events, the group also took part in a range of exciting activities including a team challenge to build a shelter, working with National Trust for Scotland Rangers at Ben Lomond to remove invasive Rhododendrons and a night of star gazing.

Twelve year old Catriona Manders, from McLaren High School in Callander, who is a member of the National Park Youth Committee and also a Junior Ranger, attended the event. She said: “This year I’ve had the opportunity to do things I never thought I could do. Being able to have our say in the changes to where we live is so important as young people in the National Park.”

Making shelters and enjoying the great outdoors

The event was made possible thanks to support from Forest Holidays. As part of a partnership with the UK’s National Parks, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is one of three pilot National Parks to benefit from a £5,000 contribution from Forest Holidays towards education work specifically for young people. Hostelling Scotland also supported the event by offering Rowardennan Youth Hostel as a venue.

Charlotte Wallace, Volunteer, Engagement and programme Manager at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park said: “We were absolutely thrilled to be able to host our first ever youth residential to celebrate our achievements from the Year of Young People 2018. Importantly though, this is a fantastic opportunity, set in the outdoors, to hear directly from the young people who participated in the events of last year.

“Throughout last year the National Park Authority collaborated with young people in a variety of exciting projects and initiatives including creating a Youth Committee that gives young people the chance to work with us and discuss issues that matter to them, a follow on Junior Ranger programme with participants working towards their Scottish Countryside Junior Ranger Award and launching a new Young Volunteer Programme which offers people aged 16 -25 the opportunity to take part in conservation projects across the National Park.

“Young people are vital not only to the future of the National Park, but also to the here and now. We really value the important role they play in helping to make key decisions about this special place. Our residential was a fantastic opportunity to continue working in partnership with young people to help us to shape our programmes for 2019 and beyond and ensure that young people remain at the heart of the work of the National Park Authority.”

The weekend was a great success and the Park Authority hopes to hold similar events in the future.

Increasing opportunities for young people to engage with nature and enjoy the great outdoors is one of the key aims of 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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