Location: Fife College: Stenton campus, Glenrothes.
The Active Environment team from Paths for All recently had the pleasure of attending Fife College to work with 10 young people attending the Access to Further Education programme to take part in the Path Skillz course. Path Skillz aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills to help them design, plan and construct a new path on campus. The new path will provide students, tutors and visitors the opportunity to access nature and increase their physical activity.
The Access to Further Education course is designed for school leavers to give young people the opportunity to engage in college life with the aim of progressing on to a full-time college course or finding career opportunities through modern apprenticeships.
The course focuses on personal development, building confidence, enhancing existing skills and improving self-learning and self-awareness. The course tutor, Dudley Aitchison, is very proud that the 5 girls from the Access to Further Education programme who took part in Path Skillz were all keen to get involved in the ‘Girls get oot’ campaign as this reflects the colleges commitment to inclusiveness, equality and social responsibility.
The ‘Girls get oot’ campaign has been developed as part of Freshspace, a partnership between SNH, Young Scot and female volunteers. The aims of this campaign is to break down the barriers that prevent young women from experiencing nature.
Two of the girls, Chelsea and Mhairi consented to a short informal interview with their tutor Dudley Aitchison present to discuss how the experience of getting outdoors in nature had benefited them.
Chelsea has attended the Stenton campus since September and would like to pursue a career in sports and fitness. Chelsea is a regular volunteer with Fife council and in particular enjoys working with children in an outdoor environment to promote the health benefits of getting outside more often. Chelsea is very interested in promoting the #girlsgetoot campaign as she passionate about highlighting the positives of young women getting outdoors.
Mhairi has attended the campus since last December and would like to pursue a career in drama. Mhairi is a keen writer and is currently working on a novel in which the main character is a young woman with paralysis. Mhairi actively promotes awareness about disability and highlights that people should not be ‘defined’ by their disability. Mhairi is interested in promoting the #girlsgetoot campaign as she feels strongly about addressing the barriers that prevent young women of all ages and abilities to explore the outdoors.
What inspires you about the Girls get oot campaign?
The campaign is good as it is important for their to be equality when participating outdoors. Getting more young women outdoors lets people know we can do just a good a job in outdoor careers and if we can get more female out they will inspire others to go and explore the outdoors.
I agree with that and it’s important that more young women don’t feel excluded from participating outdoors whether that is working in an outdoor environment, playing sports or just enjoying being outdoors. An outdoor environment can be quite sexist but getting more young women outdoors will help break down barriers like this as people become more educated on who important it is for women to enjoy the outdoors.
Why do you think it is important for young women to get outdoors?
I think it is very important for young women to get outdoors. I volunteer with Fife council and we take out different age groups of children to do team building exercises. I think it is important from a young age, especially with girls, that they get the chance to explore the outdoors and get to know about how much fun it can be.
It is important that young women get to know how beneficial being outdoors can be for your physical and mental well-being. I would like to add though that it can be restrictive as sometime the attitude is that ‘girls can’t do that’
What benefits do you think young women get from getting outdoors more?
Experience. I think young women miss out due to the stereotypes of outdoor activities whether it is recreational or work related. It does seem that being outdoors is more orientated to males and that needs to be addressed.
The positives are that you get to try stuff you might really enjoy. Getting outdoors gives you more confidence, helps with your fitness and doesn’t have to be boring. It is a shame that because of attitudes, young women might not try something because of stereotypes.
What challenges do you think stop young female from getting outdoors ?
Chelsea & Mhairi:
Boys saying that women cannot do outdoor activities as well as them. It is very patronising. Attitudes need to change. We need to get out there to prove we can do what they can do …..only better.
Has being a part of the Path Skills course inspired you to get outdoors more and would you recommend it to other young females?
Chelsea: It has been really good getting out and learning how to do the practical stuff and learn new skills we might not have had the opportunity to do.
Mhairi: I agree with Chelsea that it has been good for learning new skills but it has also let the group learn how to work together, given us confidence to do outdoor work and gain an award. I would recommend it to any young female to try.
Do you have any suggestions on how Path Skillz could be improved to be more attractive for young female?
It would be good if Path Skillz had a female coming out to show us the practical stuff as it might be easier for girls to participate more seeing a young women in charge.
Agree. I would also like to see positive stories from females in an outdoor environment telling us about their success in the outdoor industry.
Unique challenges – how could access outdoors be improved to overcome barriers for young females to enable them to participate more in an outdoor environment ?
For me it is about attitudes changing. Boys have to be more respectful and give more encouragement. I do think more positive images and stories of women outdoors would help change attitudes and make it easier for women to have more confidence and fun in an outdoor environment.
I would just like to add that due to my circumstance I would also like to see more positive images of not just young women but also of people with disabilities.
People need to be more understanding of what ‘disability’ is and be aware that individuals are just as capable, they just need to find different ways of doing things. I still feel there is restrictions for me getting to fully participate in an outdoor environment and work still needs to be done to improve this. My disability will never define me.