After months of lockdown in what felt at times like a gloomy and wet winter, and the isolation and inactivity that meant for many, the school Easter holidays meant an opportunity to get small groups of the young people currently on our programme out into the wilderness for some much needed time adventuring. There was a real sense of relief for young people who had something to look forward to, a chance to see friends in person and a carefree day of exploring or learning new skills. With all the necessary COVID-19 related measures in place to keep everyone safe, we were delighted to be back in action supporting these vulnerable young people as we move into the next chapter of the pandemic.
When it came to what activities to run this time, we asked young people what they were keen for. Over the past year we have noticed an increasing interest from our young people in cooking and baking, especially during the periods of lockdown. This has often featured as a shared activity during our remote mentoring sessions, and young people were keen to take this further with some outdoor cooking during an Activity Day. This Easter we were able to make that happen with sessions teaching young people about cooking using open fires and camp stoves. They learnt about ingredient sourcing, even foraging for wild garlic to add in, nutrition and preparation before the cooking itself, creating delicious bread, soup, stews and pizzas. After some much-enjoyed obligatory taste testing, the young people were able to package up their meals to take home and share with their families.
Other young people enjoyed a day of bushcraft and woodland based activities, learning fire lighting methods, whittling techniques, trying their hand at archery and playing some extensive games of camouflage and concealment, putting the staff’s seeking skills to the test! Another group were keen for some watersports so had the chance to take a lake-based journey in open Canadian canoes. Finally, we had a group trying out parkour and freerunning, something they’d told us they were keen to have a go at, and which proved hugely popular as they learnt to safely jump, land, roll and traverse from one object to another. A fun filled energetic day for those young people, and it certainly put the YAT staff and the volunteers through their paces – there was sure to be some achy limbs the next morning!
It was a busy, engaging and fun week with a very important focus; giving young people some much needed time outdoors, away from screens, interacting with people, developing their social and communication skills, working on problem solving, building their resilience, and spending time with adults who could offer a listening ear for any worries or concerns. Seeing all our young people in person again, and hearing about how life during lockdown has been for them, really demonstrated how valuable and appreciated these opportunities for some face to face support are. We were impressed with their openness to the new challenges presented to them on the days, evidencing the confidence they have been building during the YAT programme. The winter lockdown had clearly taken its toll, but there was a sense of positivity and optimism that things are moving in a better direction. The team are busy planning the next group opportunities for them in early June, whilst also offering ongoing individualised one to one support to those who need it.
“YAT has been amazing for our son. It’s provided him with the space to be able to talk with someone outside of the family for help and support. We are very grateful that he’s been able to take part. The support throughout the past year has been amazing.” Parent