Five English National Parks have joined a project to inspire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Campaign for National Parks (CNP), which works to 'protect and promote' the parks of England and Wales, has been awarded more than a quarter of a million pounds to get more young people into National Parks as part of its long-running Mosaic project. The funding will allow the charity to support young people aged 16 to 25 who are facing economic or social exclusion to develop new skills and to build a national network of 'Young Champions' for National Parks.
The money from the Big Lottery Fund's Reaching Communities programme is funding a project under which 150 disadvantaged young people will be trained in new skills so that they can support around 6000 of their peers to get involved in National Parks, for example through organising events and activities.
It is hoped the Young Champions will also help National Parks to become more attractive and appealing to young people by working with National Park Authorities on becoming more youth friendly, helping inspire others.
Five National Park authorities are involved: Exmoor, the Lake District, the New Forest, Northumberland and the Yorkshire Dales.
Mark Allum, Recreation and Tourism Manager for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA), said:
'The Yorkshire Dales National Park is an extraordinary landscape in which people can have extraordinary experiences.'
'The aim of this project is to introduce them to new people and... as they recruit the Young Champions, to help build their leadership skills and confidence, hopefully leading to better employment and training prospects.'
'The Young Champions will help make the National Park more attractive and appealing to young people by working with the National Park Authority to make it more 'youth friendly', thereby encouraging a new generation to be inspired by national parks.'
'The project will recruit young people living in, or close to the National Park. By the end of this phase of the Mosaic programme, it is hoped the Young Champions will have brought more than 1,200 other young people into the Yorkshire Dales National Park.'
Carl Lis, the YDNPA's chairman, added:
'This is an exciting opportunity to engage with young people and inspire them through the National Park. This will take our work with them in a new direction and, having been partners with CNP in the past, we are sure it will be a great success and build on our other projects with the younger generation.'
The CNP's Mosaic project helps people who might not normally visit National Parks, such as those from black and minority ethnic communities or young people, and provides them with the knowledge, support and confidence to explore and enjoy them, and to get involved with making decisions about what happens in them.