FIND YOUR FEET
GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY ARC’TERYX
Arc’teryx is proud to once again partner with The Outdoor Education Foundation, with 5% of all sales Australia-wide from Dec 25-31 being donated to deliver the Find Your Feet program.
This outdoor education program helps young people from Melbourne’s west reconnect with each other, build resilience and learn the skills to tackle both the ordinary and extraordinary challenges of life.
THE OUTDOOR EDUCATION FOUNDATION
Outdoor education provides powerful, life-changing experiences to young people. There are social and economic inequities in society however, that mean not all young people can access an outdoor education experience. The Outdoor Education Foundation was founded to provide high-quality outdoor education programs to young people impacted by disadvantage so they can build resilience and learn skills to tackle both the ordinary and extraordinary challenges of life.
The Outdoor Education Foundation’s Find Your Feet program is specifically targeted at young people experiencing disadvantage and marginalisation. These young people have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Following the enormous success of the 2021 program, in 2022, we are planning to support 30, 14–16-year-old students who will be referred to us through our partner schools. These schools work with young migrants, refugees, homeless and socially and economically disadvantaged young people in the Western suburbs.
The program will take place over three days at The Outdoor Education Group’s Camp Marysville facility and aims to provide the students with an opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with their peers, and have some fun in the outdoors.
The COVID-19 lockdowns have had a devastating impact on Victoria’s young people. With the closure of schools, young people became physically isolated which has led to increased rates of depression and anxiety. This is reflected in the rise in calls to crisis services such as Kids Helpline who reported a 20 percent increase in calls in 2020, with most related to counselling about mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Similarly, a national survey exploring the impact of COVID-19 on teaching found that 75% of teachers considered that remote learning negatively affects a student's emotional wellbeing. Teachers reported young people experiencing anxiety, feelings of disconnection, withdrawal from others, and missing their friends.
While the closure of classrooms disrupted everyone, households from lower-income areas were disproportionally affected. In households with no internet connection, many students were trying to learn with a single shared mobile phone connection. Not only were these young people physically isolated but with very little digital connection, they also become further socially isolated.
The lack of public green space and higher population densities in disadvantaged areas also had an impact on the time these students spent outside. Not only did this affect their physical health but it had further implications for their mental wellbeing.
This is reinforced by recent findings from a UK study which showed that children who decreased their connection to nature during the COVID lockdowns had higher levels of behavioural and emotional problems, compared to those whose connection to nature increased
With significant rates of anxiety and depression among this cohort, access to outdoor education experiences is more important than ever before. Facilitated outdoor education programs give young people the opportunity to get outside, be adventurous, curious, healthy and connect with themselves and each other.
In 2020, when Melbourne was briefly out of lockdown, OEF ran their first Find Your Feet program, financially supported by Arc’teryx. While only three days in length, the feedback from the students indicated that this program had a profound and lasting impact on many of the young people who participated.
Many spoke about the confidence they gained from trying new things. This included learning how to make new friends, speaking in front of others and physical challenges such as abseiling or mountain biking.
This new-found confidence and resilience also impacted on how they approached their life back at school.
You can learn more about the Outdoor Education Foundation and their work here: https://www.oeg.edu.au/the-outdoor-education-foundation/