The Breathing Spaces Project - Be active, Keep Learning, Give
This project was developed by Prism Youth Project, based at Prism City Farm. The project aims to provide 12 to 21-year-olds with opportunities to engage in horticultural and other farm and animal-based activities. By facilitating these types of activities (or what is known as ‘ecotherapy' - green exercise and other learning activities) improvements are made around the young people's wellbeing and mental health.
The project is run by a paid volunteer coordinator and a specialist mental health worker who offer the young people everything from one-to-one support through to group activities at the farm. Funding for these posts came from the Big Lottery Fund's Eco-minds strand.
Although this project caters for young people with severe mental health conditions, it has engaged with a diverse range of young people. Their belief is that regardless of background all can benefit from the contact with animals.
Some of the challenges to this project were finding successful ways of sharing personal information on the young people across local services. The volunteer coordinator invested time in developing strong relationships with the other key agencies, ensuring these relationships were built on trust and face-to-face communication.
Weather can also be a challenge for projects such as this - young people are less inclined to participate when the weather is poor. New ways of engaging young people are still being trialled to ensure the service has engagement all year round.
15 September 2011