Launching the YAT Resilience Programme

For many years now, we have recognised that we are having a measurable and life-changing impact on the young people we work with and we are determined to find a way to inspire more young lives. We are also aware that, as a charity, we must remain sustainable and when we commit to young people, we will not let them down. The economic climate with a cost-of-living crisis and the aftereffects of the pandemic is challenging for our families. The young people need us more than ever and we need to ensure that we have something of value to offer them.  

Consequently, we have launched the YAT Resilience Programme –  a year-long pilot programme that runs alongside the YAT Adventure Programme. It includes monthly activity days, supplementary take-home activities, and a coherent thread that guarantees a progressive and meaningful experience for our young people. Throughout 2023 we will be developing and shaping the Programme, listening to the young people and their families to create something that uses our signature combination of outdoor activities and one-to-one support to help even more young people build resilience, develop confidence and learn skills to face the challenges in their lives.

What the YAT Resilience Programme looks like

  • 40 Young people: joined us in 2022 and moved onto the new pilot programme in January 2023;
  • 11 Activity days: February – November plus a 2-day overnight experience in August;
  • Local delivery: mostly delivered within Wiltshire; activities include GPS challenges, bushcraft, outdoor cooking, and water based activities. The days are carefully designed to use activities as a platform to teach particular skills, ensuring young people make progress and experience success;
  • Takeaway challenges: optional complementary activities or challenges which help maintain engagement and learning in between activity days;
  • Ongoing support: dedicated and regular support from Jonothan, their Youth Adventure Trust Programme Manager, who ensures each young person achieves their own personal objectives;
  • Regular review sessions: young people set aims and review their progress towards them in their personal journals, focused on different aspects of resilience – Confidence, Commitment, Control and Challenge;
  • Objective impact measurement: MTQ4C Mental Toughness Questionnaire used at the start and end of the Programme to help young people identify their personal objectives and for us to measure their progress.

A successful start

The YAT Resilience Programme activity days kicked off in February with two successful climbing-based days. All of the young people had a go at bouldering and climbing… it was fantastic to see them become more and more confident as the day went on, with several people really surprising themselves when they reached the top. Between sessions every young person learnt to tie two or three knots and was given a piece of paracord to take away and practice with at home as this skill will come in handy later in the Programme. We also played a variety of team building games and set new personal aims to work on over the coming weeks and months.

Prior to these days all the young people completed one of our outcome measurement questionnaires with their Programme Manager, Jonothan, in school. We used these to give them feedback at the activity days to help them set their aims for the Programme. Each person received a journal where they’ll record their progress and reflections across the coming year. We’ll review, adjust and update aims and progress at the different days as we go.

We introduced the idea of takeaway challenges to the group. These are optional complementary activities or challenges which help maintain engagement and learning in between the activity days. The first of these, in keeping with the rope theme from their first days, is to create something with rope or string and the knots they learnt that they can use at home.

Image: a dreamcatcher created by a young person in their takeaway challenge, using the knots they learnt on their first activity day.

The programme is still forming in tandem with the planning and delivery of the activities. There are two key elements which tie everything together: the mental toughness/resilience themed aims which the young people will work towards throughout the Programme; and the tangible skills that they will learn and apply as they progress through the Programme, for example, learning knots in February to build go-karts and shelters later; and learning to cook on a fire in March to then cook outside on a forest adventure later on.

The young people are very positive about the programme, as are parents and volunteers:

“Since you went to the climbing centre, Katie has asked to go climbing every weekend. Actually getting her to do physical activity – she’s withdrawn from all the sports she’s done previously since last year, so, it’s absolutely amazing, I’m over the moon. She’s having a lesson this weekend.”