Island adventurers on the shores of Loch Lomond.
By Laura Dennett
On International Youth Day, young people from Haldane Youth Service and the Life Improvement Centre, took part in an island adventure on Inchcailloch with Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority and the John Muir Trust.
Eleven young people and staff joined Rangers from the National Park Authority to explore the island and connect with its amazing history, wildlife and landscapes as part of their John Muir Award.
The group was made up of members of Haldane Youth Services, a charity that delivers after school activities for children in West Dunbartonshire and the Life Improvement Centre Scotland, an organisation based in Glasgow that promotes healthy living and designs programmes to educate and inspire individuals and families to improve health and well-being.
The group took part in a series of activities to help them enjoy and understand how to care for the natural environment. This included climbing the island summit path to learn all about Inchcailloch’s geology, using chocolate.
Members of the group were then presented with their John Muir Award in recognition of their achievements. The nationally recognised award is the main engagement initiative of the John Muir Trust and encourages people of all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy and take responsibility for wild places.
The event coincides with the publication of a joint report from the National Park Authority and the John Muir Trust, celebrating over five years of successful partnership working. The National Park Authority has worked closely with the John Muir Trust since 2013, helping thousands of people achieve a John Muir Award in the National Park every year.
The report highlights the benefits of the partnership and outlines how the John Muir Trust supports the delivery of key outcomes from the National Park Partnership Plan including helping people young people, adults and families of all backgrounds enjoy and value the National Park.
Since 2013 the partnership has led to over 9,000 John Muir Awards being achieved within the National Park, with around 1 in 4 of them being completed by people experiencing some form of disadvantage. There has also been 19 training opportunities benefiting almost 300 volunteers and professionals within or surrounding the National Park.
Charlotte Wallace, Volunteering, Engagement and Programme Manager at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park said: “Today’s adventure on Inchcailloch was a great way to help young people connect with the outdoors and give them an opportunity to enjoy, appreciate and respect wild places, especially those right on their doorstep!”
“Our partnership with the John Muir Trust helps people from a range of backgrounds benefit from engaging with the natural world. We’re excited to be expanding our reach and opening up more opportunities for young people to experience the National Park, taking the chance to learn from them and celebrate their fantastic successes wherever possible.”
Toby Clark, the Trust’s John Muir Award Scotland Manager said: “Congratulations to all the young people, and our partners at the National Park. They’ve shown us how positively young people respond to opportunities to engage with and take action against biodiversity loss and climate chaos.
“This is a clear reminder that we should stop talking about young people as being ‘the future’, and start celebrating their leadership as active caring citizens who are making a real difference today. I can’t think of many better places to encourage youth social action than in our National Parks.”
Over the coming years the National Park Authority will continue to monitor John Muir Award activity within the National Park that helps mitigate and address the impacts of the global climate emergency.
For further information on Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority education materials and programmes visit www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/learning