Video games are helping young people to connect with nature in Lancashire

19 January 2021

Playing on your computer has been seen as an isolated and indoors pastime, but The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is turning that around by employing games that will introduce users to nature and help their mental wellbeing.

This year the Trust are launching their brand new Minecraft sessions as part of our hugely successful green wellbeing service, Myplace.

It comes at a time when getting outside and socialising is more difficult than it has ever been and young people are spending much more time indoors.

“We’ve never been afraid of doing things a bit differently here at Myplace” says Myplace Manager, Rhoda Wilkinson: “Using video games and a platform which people are already familiar with seemed a perfect way to reach out to individuals who might otherwise have struggled to engage with us.”

“It can sometimes be difficult, particularly for young people, to get out to sites. From the practicalities of transport, to the anxiety of the unknown, and now a global pandemic. Many of the gaming tools out there already provide lots of links to nature, just without people realising it. We want to use these to get people involved with nature and actively learning about conservation in a fun and relaxed environment. We hope young people will then have the opportunity to come out to site and have a go at some of the activities they’ve been doing virtually.”

For many people, playing video games has been an important way to stay in contact with one another and step back from the stress of living through a global health pandemic.

MyPlace trainee Connor

Myplace Project Trainee, Connor Hudson, who has helped us design them said: “”Video games have always been a huge part of my life. It’s a way for me to take myself out of the stresses of day to day life and shape my virtual world to how I see fit. Whether its calm and relaxing, fast-paced and competitive, story driven or just the sense of adventure. There is a bit of something for everyone and every mood.

I play a lot of videos games, not just for the love of the game but for the connections you make with friends and even random players along the way. During lockdown having this to fall back on was a huge weight off my shoulders and helped me get through the long days of being stuck inside.”

At the start of lockdown, Myplace introduced online sessions so they could continue offering their vital service. Seeing how successful these were encouraged them to get even more creative with the kinds of things they could offer to people, which is how the idea of using Minecraft came about.

Minecraft is a video game which involves exploring worlds and finding resources to be able to create anything you imagine. The Minecraft sessions will include many of the activities you might expect from a normal session outside with the Myplace project; like creating new greenspaces, going for walks, learning about nature and working collaboratively on projects.

The sessions are completely free, thanks to funding from the More Positive Together programme and will be led by a trained member of the Myplace team. To find out more about our new Minecraft sessions, or any of the sessions we offer as part of our Myplace project, visit: www.lancswt.org.uk/myplace.

The Myplace project is run by The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside in partnership with Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust. Myplace is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund as part of the Our Bright Future programme and the More Positive Together programme.

More Positive Together is a Lancashire-wide project which will help 2,250 residents of the county’s most deprived neighbourhoods to improve their skills and employment prospects. It is led by Active Lancashire and supported by funding from the European Social Fund.

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