Wilder Ways - Sustainable Communities Initiative

BY David Doig Foundation

Following their first grant from the David Doig Foundation in 2019, Sustainable Communities Initiatives were awarded their second grant in December 2020. The charity, established in 2000, works to increase environmental awareness and promote environmental sustainability activities in Fife.

This grant was awarded to support an outdoor mentoring project, called Wilder Ways. The programme works to mentor teenagers to gain skills and confidence in the outdoors, and this year will work with home-schooled teenagers to achieve an SQA in Environmental Science.

The young people who have been referred to SCI have been referred for a range of reasons, including social and emotional challenges affecting their participation at mainstream school. For example, some struggled with peer relationships, had problems with speech and language, had a diagnosis of ADHD or other concentration issues, had a lack of resilience and lack of positive attention at home due to large family, or had learning difficulties.

This project brought together the skills of an experienced outdoor educator and children could really benefit from having some individual attention, small group-work experience, a change of learning environment, and the chance to feel more confident and build self-esteem. The children were encouraged to think about ways that they could continue the positive aspects of the experience when they returned home, and how they could share their new skills and knowledge with their family and friends

The outdoor mentoring project went really well with the support of this grant funding. The 10 young people involved continued to engage well with the activities and demonstrate care, connection and motivation towards their natural environments. They also improved their connections with each other, improving social skills and contributing to the well being of the community. Sessions included nature connection games and activities, bushcraft skills and challenges, physical challenges, foraging and cooking, surveying and plant use.

A new person also joined the group in this period, and has settled in well. He had spent many years living in a flat with no garden, struggled with obesity, and suffered from bullying in his neighbourhood. As a result, he was inclined to not go out. Through his involvement with the outdoor mentoring project, he is now thriving on weekly outings connecting him to plants and nature. He feels more relaxed and is getting fitter. The group has really helped improve his wellbeing and his physical fitness, and he is making friends too.

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