Scientific evidence shows that physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for poor health, going well beyond issues related to weight control and influencing both physical and mental well-being.
Over the past few years, the promotion of physical activity has increasingly been recognized in Europe as a priority for public health, and many countries have responded through the development of policies and interventions.
Physical activity can be done in different environments and in different environmental conditions. Outdoor sports and outdoor physical activity solutions have many benefits from the aspect of physical and mental health, environment protection, availability, sustainability etc.
The importance of participating in outdoor sports and physical activities as well as being outdoor and active in nature has especially become significant in the last few months when the pandemic with COVID – 19 started. The pandemic did not cause just fear, social distancing and isolation. It also affected people’s movement habits, social interaction and communication affecting negatively on physical activity level, physical, mental and emotional health.
Therefore, one of the focuses of the project will be to support mental and emotional health and improve social connectedness by promoting outdoor activities and outdoor education. As schools return, outdoor learning needs to be a central part of each school’s efforts to maintain restricted social bubbles and distance between students.
As a result, many curricular lessons will have to be taken outdoors in the school grounds, parks or other outdoor spaces. In this regard, the project will aim to support teaching staff in schools, universities and other educational institutions in the transition into new ways of working by promoting outdoor learning and outdoor education.
Based on the previously mentioned intentions, we built our project idea on the following three postulates: benefits from outdoor participation and activities for physical and mental
health, storytelling as an approach to inner personality and self – discovery and combining them in order to support social connection and cohesion among youngsters.
The project aims to transform educational practices, moving from frequent indoor activities to regular use of the outdoor environment and use it as tools for improvement of social
connectedness and social cohesion of youth. In this project, we present the main dimensions related to outdoor activities and highlight the role of professionals and educators in creating quality outdoor play opportunities.
The new applied methodology will evoke social inclusion, lifelong learning and survival skills among the youngsters. Through the connection to place, students will develop stronger environmental attitudes and civic behaviours. Through this kind of learning experiences, we will create the foundation of raising the next generation of active citizens who take care of
their natural and human communities.
In the same time, we will increase their motivation and outdoor participation trough creating challenges and games that will give educators new pointers for developing the new educational curricula. In the centre of the new learning, the methodology will be the art of storytelling.
To make this happen we will bring researchers and youth workers from North Macedonia, Greece and Germany to develop the new outdoor-based learning methodology and to
proposes 30 activities as a part of the Handbook. The youngsters have the central role in the project activities since their participation in the learning mobilities will bring valid pointersfor the final version of the handbook. These learning trainings will cover all the important aspects of organizing outdoor activities including outdoor safety and prevention. As a result of these activities, we will have the first outdoor youth mentors who will be constantly engaged in the partner organization by supporting the outdoor events.
The project results and will be reflected in the “Youth wellbeing and getting outdoors after Covid-19” Handbook, followed by the “30 Day Outdoor Journey” IT application. The application will be their personal diary with experiences and achievements that will have a motivating character. This application will aim to bring young people closer to the “30 days challenge” by having the mobile version and can be used on the spot. The handbook and the App will be available worldwide and can be used by individuals and or any educational institution.
We do believe that the project results will contribute to the educational programs worldwide, will make the outdoor experience more playful and enjoyable and in the same time will help youngers to be more inclusive and connected with nature.