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New chance to learn in the Dales

[Thursday 12 February 2009]

YOUNG people wanting to learn more about the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the work of its volunteers are being given the chance to get hands-on experience.

The National Park Authority (YDNPA) has teamed up with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), the Cumbria Youth Alliance and the educational arm of the John Muir Trust – a UK charity dedicated to the protection of wild land for both nature and people – to provide practical, outdoor sessions for teenagers.

Rae Lonsdale, the YDNPA’s Volunteers Co-ordinator, said: “We have been working with DofE in the region for several years, providing residential opportunities for people taking the Gold Award – but these accommodate only 15 young people for one week in the year.

“A very few local Gold Award participants have undertaken what was the ‘Service’ section of their DofE programme with our Dales Volunteers and we now want to respond to changes within the Award that will enable younger participants to get outside and do some practical volunteering themselves, rather than just learning about ‘service’ second hand.”

The changes mean that, within the National Park, groups of young people doing the new ‘Volunteering’ section of their Silver or Bronze Award will carry out a series of practical tasks in subjects like path maintenance or woodland management. Back at home, they will learn more about what makes the Dales such a special place, national parks in general, conservation and Scottish-born John Muir, who campaigned to set up the world’s first national park.

The YDNPA has just become a provider for the John Muir Award – so, from now on, young people working towards their DofE Award will also be able to obtain the introductory ‘Discovery’ level of the John Muir Award.

“Although we are beginning the John Muir Award with DofE groups in the main, we hope eventually to be able to offer this opportunity to other groups of people of all ages,” Rae said.

“We are really pleased to be working with Cumbria Youth Alliance, which runs the John Muir Award in this area. The programme will offer groups of young people who live within about 30 miles of the park boundary opportunities to discover, explore, conserve and share their experience of wild places.”

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