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Sportivate Innovation Case Study: Adventure School

What is Adventure School?

Young people tell us they want new experiences and different activities that will keep them active for longer. The Adventure School by Canoe Trail, has listened to this, and provided an offer for young people that develops both healthy lifestyles and new skills. Adventure School combines water based activities with bush craft and team building activities, tailored for young people from some of the most deprived wards in Bedfordshire.

Whilst working with specific partners, the project aims to become accessible for all, improve participant wellbeing and create a sustainable opportunity for outdoor adventure. Here is a brief insight into why and how this has been made possible, as well as the impact the project has had so far.

Who makes Adventure School happen?

Adventure School has been able to offer the young people from key partner organisations a brand new experience, and a sense of accomplishment after eight weeks of activity. Organisations such as the Bedfordshire YMCA, Bedford Free School, The Princes Trust and Tokko Youth Space work directly with the target audience.

Canoe Trail have worked closely with teamBEDS&LUTON to develop a meaningful project that impacts physical wellbeing and personal development. £30,000 of Sport England Funding has been secured in the past eighteen months throughout the Sportivate Innovation programme. This funding has allowed coach led sessions for over 150 people, as well as equipment to enhance the experience for the young people.

Why was Adventure School designed?

Adventure School wasn't created by accident. The project has been designed after consultation with young people and research into current trends. Sport England research tell us that 15% of young people do understand the benefits of physical activity, however struggle to be consistently active. The range of activities provided through Adventure School, has provided regular access to outdoor activity for young people. Only 20% of young people have a positive attitude to activity. This provided Adventure School with a great opportunity to target the remaining 80%, and encourage a positive outlook on activity.

Adventure School has also drawn on research provided by the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). This tells us that 75% of young people are likely to remain in outdoor activity after a positive experience. Adventure School aims to do exactly that with the target audience. The Bedfordshire YMCA are working closely with 10 – 16 year olds from hard to reach groups within deprived wards in Bedford. These young people fall into one of Sport England's largest classifications for young people. This classification tells us that activity needs to be exciting, flexible and importantly, fun for them and their friends or family. Therefore Adventure School has to be adaptable to suit their needs.

All of this, combined with local insight directly from the young people and adults working closely with them, has contributed to the design of Adventure School. This design is to influence the change in attitudes and behaviour towards physical activity. A change in both of these factors will result in a healthier lifestyle.

Why do we need to change behaviours and attitudes?

Changing behaviours is key to sustaining regular activity. Adventure School is a project about getting more people, more active, more regularly. To achieve this, positive opportunities need to be provided to influence positive behaviours towards activity. Current behaviours vary from month to month, and young people value their experiences and want to make memories.

So projects like Adventure School need to provide the experience, creating positive and emotional connections that retain the young person. Adventure School provides water based and land based experiences like no other, for young people who may not have had the opportunity previously. These experiences can have a significant impact, not only to the individual, but also partner organisations and long term societal impact.

What is the wider impact?

Adventure School provides so many positive experiences for the individual and groups of young people. The health benefits speak for themselves and there are so many wider benefits that could go unnoticed.

An eight week sample of seventeen attendees was taken from participants on the Princes Trust's Fairbridge programme. This sample included young people from some of the most deprived wards in Luton, who are currently out of employment and consistently inactive. Using a social impact measurement tool (Sportworks), a calculated £478,000 has potentially been saved to society due to the engagement with physical activity. This is calculated by measuring different factors (including the likelihood of participants committing crime, claiming benefits, unemployment, amongst others) based on postcode data and the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

So what’s the real impact?

More young people active, outdoors, experiencing physical activity and the British countryside.

Canoe Trail have designed an Adventure School that listens to local young people, based on consultation and in depth insight into current trends and values. Adventure School targets those in need of activity most, not just due to inactivity, but also to those needing to escape from difficult lifestyles. All of this combined is influencing a behaviour change shift, towards an active nation.

Tom Harwood

Tom Harwood

Sports Project Officer

Contact me about Sportivate, FE Sport and Get Back Into.

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