The National Trust hosted a special virtual celebration to mark the completion of the second ‘Knowing Your Home’ project delivered in partnership with Causeway Adventures and The Coast Office, Portballintrae.
A total of 14 young people aged 14-16 from across the Causeway Coast have completed the programme and received an accredited John Muir Award for their commitment to the programme, designed to connect young people to their home, its environment, heritage and history through exploring, learning, protecting and promoting what surrounds them.
The group successfully completed adventurous activities to learn skills in rowing, canoeing, boat restoration, bushcraft, hiking, camping, dry stone walling and marine biodiversity before the COVID pandemic and lockdown brought the programme to an early end.
Programme Coordinator Jim Allen said: “There is a natural synergy between the ethos of the National Trust and what we were doing as Causeway Adventures to engage with young people in the region. The John Muir Conservation Award Scheme was a natural fit to provide accreditation for the participants. It is based on the four pillars of DISCOVER, EXPLORE, CONSERVE and SHARE.
“The 2019/20 season was unfortunately cut short due to the lockdown but not before we had spent a great winter and early spring exploring the beautiful Causeway coastal region with this great group of young people. We had hoped to get everyone together to celebrate the young people’s achievement but the virtual gathering is the only way we can ‘get together’ at the minute. It was lovely to see everyone and bring a successful closure to what is a unique programme of outdoor learning.
“The National Trust are to be commended for having the vision and desire to fund such a programme, which meant we were able to offer it free of charge to local young people. It was also great that the young people had the opportunity to work alongside some of the National Trust rangers on practical conservation projects locally.
“We are actively investigating funding options to be able to continue the Knowing Your Home programme as we know the great benefits, physical and mental of getting outdoors and discovering, exploring, conserving and sharing.”
Max Bryant, General Manager, National Trust, said: “This is a fantastic programme which encourages young people to get outdoors and learn more about their local and natural environment. This year, perhaps more than ever before, we have all been so appreciative of where we live and the coastline on our doorstep. It is inspiring to see a new generation that are enthusiastic about learning practical conservation skills which is truly essential in protecting special places for everyone.
“I want to congratulate all the young people and their families for committing to this programme, it is heartening to hear of how it has benefited them as individuals and to see the positive work they have done for the local environment. This work is at the heart of what our charity is all about, we protect and care for places so people and nature can thrive. Well done to all involved.