Today 31 projects across the UK – including two in Northern Ireland – are sharing in £33 million through Our Bright Future, a UK wide programme led by the Wildlife Trusts. The projects are using the funding to give young people the skills and knowledge to improve their local environments.
Our Bright Future programme manager, Cath Hare explains more.
Over the past decade, research has supported the idea that experiencing nature improves the physical, mental and emotional well–being in people of all ages.
However, access to the outdoors has fallen. We now spend more than 80 per cent of our time indoors and children roam an average of 300 yards — not the six miles our great grandparents did. There is a large amount of evidence which suggests this disconnection from nature is one of the causes of the current teenage mental health crisis. The rates of depression in young people have soared by 70 per cent in the past 25 years.
What if we could make a difference?
We can. And it’s exactly what we’re doing with Our Bright Future.
Our Bright Future is a forward-thinking social movement that supports young people to lead progressive change in their communities and local environment. We are helping young people step up and take what is rightfully theirs: a healthy planet, a thriving economy, a brighter future.
Through a portfolio of 31 projects across the UK we are enabling young people to make genuine differences to their local environments.
In Northern Ireland, Belfast Hills Partnership have launched their project today with a salmon release by local school children. The pupils are learning about the lifecycle of the Atlantic salmon and the importance of caring for local rivers, by rearing eggs in the classroom and releasing them as fry back into the Colin Glen River. The project will inspire 1,000 young people to design and run environmental projects that will see young people from different cultures and communities working together.
Another 2,000 young people will be reached through schools, local youth organisations and clubs and learn about issues such as climate change, policies and plans that shape our environment.
In another project run by Ulster Wildlife, the great outdoors will be brought to life for 5,000 young people. They will gain new personal and environmental skills, as well as engaging and leading their local community’s policies and practices. Research will also be completed on the job skills required for young people to work in the land based sector to identify shortages and gaps in Northern Ireland.
These two projects are just one part of Our Bright Future – a young, ambitious and capable movement which is ensuring this generation’s voice is heard across the UK. And with the right support and infrastructure, we’re working together to make sure this happens.