Youth awards championed at Scottish Parliament

Trust backs Scotland’s Awards Network to increase recognition of the range, reach and impact of youth awards

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The John Muir Trust – represented by pupils and staff from Tynecastle High School, Edinburgh – joined over 20 youth award provider organisations at a packed Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament on 23 January.

The event was to celebrate the positive impact youth awards can have on the life chances of young people, and highlight the Awards Aware scheme designed to raise the awareness of youth awards amongst educators, employers and others.

Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, delivered the keynote address, highlighting the contribution of youth awards to achieving Curriculum for Excellence, Scottish Attainment Challenge and Developing the Young Workforce goals. Fittingly during Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, the Minister recognised “there’s a huge amount to celebrate with our young people.”

Tyncastle pupils Amna Ali and Katie McKendrick told the guests how they had gained their John Muir Award last summer: by joining local conservation projects in Edinburgh where they removed non-native invasive species and created wildlife havens; by visiting Muir’s birthplace and by walking on the John Muir Way.

“You feel free” said Amna, on the sense of adventure through learning beyond the classroom. “We made memories, something to talk about when we’re 60!”

Their John Muir Award participation “felt bigger than simply getting outside”, added Katie. “We became much more aware of nature issues, like biodiversity, and it was good to do something about it.”

Linda Howie, Social Subjects & History teacher at Tynecastle High School, said: “It’s important that we can offer our pupils different pathways to learning. Awards such as the John Muir Award can inspire pupils – this brings their learning to life which will only benefit their attainment.”

The Awards Network – a coalition of over 20 national organisations in Scotland – has produced figures showing that over 90,000 young people achieved a youth award last year. Many of these awards – run by The Boys’ Brigade, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Girl Guiding Scotland, The Outward Bound Trust, Scouts Scotland and the John Muir Trust – have experiences of the natural environment at their heart.

While the John Muir Award is open to adults and families as well as young people, the Trust has joined the Awards Network Awards Aware scheme and we urge all educators, employers and others to sign up, display their Awards Aware Certificate and raise the awareness of the value of youth awards for young people and wild places.

The photograph above shows (left to right): Amna Ali, Linda Howie and Katie McKendrick

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