This is an archived press release
Tuesday 7 June 2005
7 June 2005
Countryside achievement awards for urban youngsters
Going wild has a new meaning for urban youngsters after they earned awards in countryside skills in their National Park.
A group of 20 Barnsley young people - most of whom had never spent time in the countryside before - were presented with Peak District National Park Young Achievers Awards after learning about conservation, navigation and first aid on residential courses.
The 14-16 year-olds are now equipped with knowledge and skills far different from their normal urban pastimes - they learned about caring for wildlife in its natural habitats, and practical skills such as coppicing, fencing and pathway maintenance on the famous Pennine Way.
To help them on future visits, they were taught how to use a map and compass as well as essential first aid for emergencies far from home.
A presentation ceremony, at the Losehill Hall centre for environmental learning in Castleton, included a video of their achievements, showing just how far the youngsters had come in their short trip to the National Park, whose boundary extends into Barnsley's moors.
They each spent six days at a rural hostel, in intensive sessions of tuition, including long walks in wild terrain with National Park rangers, and practical learning with Conservation Volunteers.
The pilot scheme was set up by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council youth service outreach team and the Peak District National Park Authority, not just to teach new skills but to open the eyes of urban youngsters to what the countryside has to offer.
Mike O'Roarke, Barnsley youth team leader, said it had given them a different outlook on life: "For young people who don’t normally go to the countryside or take part in that kind of recreation, it's amazing how they've responded," he added. Plans are in hand to repeat the programme next year, and he already has a list of applicants keen to join.
Sean Prendergast, National Park head of access and recreation, said: "It's been a tremendous success. It's heartening to see the teenagers taking on board the environment issues and grasping the opportunity for a healthier lifestyle which is virtually on their doorstep. We very much hope to see them back here, with their friends."