May is National Walking Month. Here at Forever Manchester we fund a wide variety of community groups and projects, including walking groups.
Adventure Based Learning is based in the Oldham area of Greater Manchester.
Mark Hilton set up Adventure Based Learning (ABL) in January 2011 to get people who may not otherwise gain access to the countryside and the activities it offers.
Steadily, he built up a membership of teachers, social workers and youth workers to help design projects that would interest, motivate and encourage a love of the outdoors and all it offers. The group is a rare mixture of old, young, male, female experienced and novice adventurers but they all get on well. They offer taster sessions that enable people to try out activities for courses that develop and promote self-confidence, communication and team building skills. Some courses lead to accreditation leading to further training, which helps those hoping to improve employability.
The range of activities is huge and includes outdoor climbing and mountaineering, orienteering and navigation and sailing for the fit and healthy as well as a wide variety of country skills such as conservation, bush craft, ecological growing, outdoor cooking and plant, tree, fungi, animal and insect identification. ABL also provides a range of craft activities linked to nature such as raft building and willow weaving.
Every course is designed to suit the group or individual involved so the variation is brilliant. All participants are given the opportunity to help plan, do and review their house and residential courses.
The Venture Skills course was also adapted for a group of people with mental health issues to include suitable accompanied walks and a variety of activities within their capabilities.
The Adventure Quest course is aimed at year 6-7 children in the area and aims at helping children feel more self-reliant and making them feel more self-confident.
Participants are given the chance to explore the skills they never knew they had an explore a range of courses, which can lead to awards and certificates and the opportunity to advance to further hopes, fears, and aspirations in a fun learning environment and experience outdoor climbing, indoor climbing, gorge scrambling, worm holing and abseiling as well as many other team building and confidence boosting activities.
One member of the group, Lee joined ABL after being unemployed for two years. Lee self-referred himself to the group and gained a number of qualifications whilst volunteering with ABL. Thanks to these qualifications and the confidence that ABL gave to him, Lee has now gone into steady employment.