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Lancashire wild project great for young people's health

Tuesday, 10th January 2017

A project that will improve the health and well-being of young people, improve green spaces and help to reignite the "Spirit of Neighbourhood" was launched in Lancashire today.

MyPlace is a collaboration between The Lancashire Wildlife Trust and the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, funded by close to £1m in Big Lottery Funding.

The plan is to get young people out into wild places to work and explore, which will boost both physical and mental health.

In a week when Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled plans to improve young people's mental health, MyPlace was launched at the Brockholes Nature Reserve in Preston.

The Lancashire Wildlife Trust Chief Executive Officer Anne Selby said: "It was great timing the that PM's announcement was made this week, but this is something we are doing right now.

"MyPlace sits in The Wildlife Trusts Every Child Wild, it is making a connection with young people and nature, breaking barriers between the health and environment agendas. It is also about valuing nature, and nature giving us something in return - health and well-being."

Anne said that there is evidence that health issues can improve if people are in natural surroundings. MyPlace's objectives include empowering 1,000 young people to feel healthier, happier and engaged in local green spaces.

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust Chief Operating Officer Sue Moore said: "There is evidence to suggest that getting outdoors has a positive impact on mental health and physical wellbeing and the MyPlace project is all about embracing that.

“We really want to give young people the opportunity to connect with each other and their local environments to explore the outdoor elements of childhood that are often missed out on. This partnership is extremely special and I'm really looking forward to watching it develop."

MyPlace is based on ecotherapy - encouraging outdoor activities to help with problems of health and well-being.

Senior MyPlace Project Officer Mike Winstanley said: "This is a five-year project which will make a difference for young people aged 13-24 in East Lancashire.

"They will feel they have made a difference by taking part in outdoor activities. And while the project is running we will bring £120,000 of capital into the county and improve 120 green spaces."

More than 100 people, including conservation and health professionals and the Mayor of Preston Coun John Collins, attended the launch today. All attendees were asked to make a pledge on how they could support future generations.

Young people already involved in My Place in Chorley and Blackburn took part in activities, including bushcraft, food growing and conservation.

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