Dr Vanessa Cook, Clinical Psychologist in Pediatrics, recently set-up a pilot project with Wave Rangers in North Devon. The aim was to connect young people with diabetes in North Devon and improve their mental health by encouraging them to get outdoors, be active and engage with their local environment.
Young people between the ages of 10-20 volunteer as Wave Rangers in environmental and community activities across North Devon helping their local environment. The activities they can get involved in range from footpath clearing, tree planting, lake conservation, animal welfare, microplastics work, beach cleaning, river and lake cleaning (by Stand-Up Paddle Board) and even wacky art projects!
Through this work, the young people gain an understanding of the importance and value of being part of a community whilst reaping the many benefits of volunteering. At the same time, being out in nature with other people their age supports their mental health and wellbeing.
Wave Rangers is a social action project and those young people taking part will gain the John Muir Award. An award which, "encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment through a structured yet adaptable scheme, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration."
The Wave Rangers project is completely funded meaning no costs are passed on to referrers or families. Every young person taking part has the opportunity for a free surf lesson and is given a Wave Rangers T-shirt.
Vanessa says: "I am really interested in nature, mental health and the value of being outdoors in green and blue spaces and I am looking at further projects to take this forward. I was really pleased that the team were able to progress this pilot with Sarah Jellard from Wave Rangers."
For more information on Wave Rangers or to make a referral, please contact Sarah Jellard on firstname.lastname@example.org