'Our Wild Coast' - The journey comes to an end

After nearly five years of fantastic wild adventures, the Our Wild Coast project draws to a close.

Saturday 27th March proved to be an emotional affair for NWWT's youth team, as they bid a very fond farewell to 'Our Wild Coast', the project which has allowed the Trust to reconnect so many young people across North Wales with wild places since it launched in Summer 2016.

The aim of the project was to help foster the next generation of environmental guardians and bring the work of the Trust to an audience who we've previously struggled to reach. By building their engagement with young people around the principles of the John Muir Award (Discover, Explore, Conserve, Share), the team were able to overcome many of the barriers that typically tend to stop young people getting involved in pro-environmental activities, and were able to work with people from a variety of backgrounds. From snorkelling and coasteering to pulling bracken and lobbying local government - the project did it all, and by the end had reached close to 2,000 young people - with nearly 600 of those progressing to long-term engagement (3 months +).

OWC - the journey comes to an end

"Knowing the natural life around me has helped me through these times by deepening that personal connection with the natural life that grows and survives around me every day. The practical conservation has shown me the difficulties we face and how desperately they need tending to. The project has given me the confidence to share the knowledge I have gained to educate other people who hold the earth lower down in their list of priorities." - Project participant

Despite the challenges of the past year, the project battled on. Activities and events were inevitably cancelled but the team still managed to run a summer traineeship and were back out on the ground with groups in the autumn, offering some much-needed human contact in safe outdoor settings. The health and wellbeing benefits of being outside and immersed in the natural world came to the fore once again, with many young people stating that the project was one of the few things that they had to look forward to during a time when they couldn't see their friends or go anywhere. 

The final project celebration day on 27th March wasn't quite what the team had originally planned, but thanks to our fantastic youth forum members and the fact that so many of us are now used to participating in activities through our screens, they still managed to deliver a day packed with interesting talks, activities and workshops. The day culminated in the screening of a new project film which captures the essence of the project and conveys NWWT's aspirations for youth environmentalism - which you can watch here.

"My daughters’ confidence, resilience and desire to learn more has increased so much.  She has had this amazing opportunity, she has been teaching my younger children so much and it has had a knock-on effect on everything, including her wellbeing. It has also made us as a family want to learn more." - Parent

Our Wild Coast conversation

© Dilys Thompson

So what next?

This is only the beginning of the journey as far as NWWT is concerned. We have an exciting new youth environmental project launching later this month (watch this space!), a project which will build on the foundations that have been laid by Our Wild Coast and allow us to empower and inspire even more young people. Our youth project team are still with us and will continue to champion youth environmental engagement across the whole of North Wales.

If you want to find out more about how the Trust is continuing it's work with young people then please contact Chris Baker, People & Wildlife Manager on chris.baker@northwaleswildlifetrust.org.uk