Young people help shape National Park’s future

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Twelve young people took part in a youth residential event hosted by Loch Lomond and 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 and 22, packed their bags and headed to Rowardennan Youth Hostel on Friday March 8 to take part in the first 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 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 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.

Catriona Manders, 12, from McLaren High School in Callander, who is a
member of the National Park Youth Committee and a Junior Ranger, said: ‘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.’

The event was made possible thanks to support from Forest Holidays. As part of a partnership with the UK’s National Parks, Loch Lomond and 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 and the Trossachs National Park, said: ‘We were absolutely thrilled to be able to host our first 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.’

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 and the Trossachs National Park Authority education materials and programmes visit www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/learning.