NHS and Off the Grid get Young People Moving

11th July 2018

A partnership project led by Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust Integrated Health & Wellbeing Team alongside Off the Grid CIC and Leading Link, and funded by Northumberland Sport, has helped young people in Bedlington see the benefits of physical activity and spending time in the great outdoors.

This programme was made up of a selection of young people aged 15 to 17 years of age from St Benet Biscops High School who lived sedentary lives.  The aim of the programme as a whole was to get the young people more physically active using different methods of engagement, it was also hoped that during the activities, alongside being active, key life skills were learned and confidence was built.

The programme offered activities you wouldn’t normally associate with ‘exercise’ or ‘sport’ but still fell under the umbrella of physical activity. An example of some activities that were bushcraft related were things such as orienteering and fire making. During the fire making sessions (which occurred almost every session) there was always opportunity to cook food over the open fire; where the group got to try some less common types of meat such as, kangaroo, wild boar, alligator, pigeon and venison.

The most popular activity was the overnight hammock camps with some group members spending up to 6 nights out under the stars across the programme! It was also a chance for the NHS to input some subliminal health messages about protein and composite foods without coming across like a lecture at the same time the skills needed to cook efficiently and hygienically were being used.

A number of the sessions were outdoors based in locations such as Plessey Woods and Druridge Bay Country Park and the remainder of the session were on the school campus at Leading Link’s main base of operations, The Lodge.

The project has proved to be a big success with 10 of the young people gaining the John Muir Environmental Award and the V Inspired V50 Volunteering Award.

Paul Kirkpatrick, Project Lead, Off the Grid CIC said;

“Working with Northumberland Sport on this project has been a great experience for all involved, the young people have really enjoyed the sessions and all are interested in doing more exercise and activities as a result”

As a result of the links Off The Grid has, the majority of the group have recently progressed on to do Street Games Leader training that was organised by Northumberland Sport and will now enable them to go onto deliver summer activities for other groups.   We look forward to hearing about the young people’s experience as the develop their leadership skills.

Further information

For further information on this project please contact Gail Ballance, gballance@northumberland.gov.uk or 01670 623519.

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