Into the Woods

Eleven 5th year pupils at Balfron High School have been working with our health promotion staff to become peer educators. The programme focuses on increasing self esteem, confidence, communication skills and health and wellbeing and is being run in conjunction with the school, Stirling Youth Team and Stirling Voluntary Enterprise.

The process began with a week-long residential team building course in the Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park and all eleven pupils have now successfully completed their John Muir Discovery Award – a UK-wide scheme that encourages people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places.

Tasks included visiting Inchmahome Priory on the Lake of Menteith by boat, learning about the history of the island and the Priory on it, and noting animal, bird and insect life. Several challenges were set in the Callander hostel garden such as problem solving, and making mosaic herb pots and leaf lanterns. Preparing the week’s meals to budget and learning recycling techniques were also on the agenda.

NHS Forth Valley Health Promotion Officer Elaine Cochrane said: “The John Muir Award scheme is an excellent means of improving mental wellbeing and this was certainly borne out during our week in the National Park.  We’ve gained an appreciation for wildlife on our doorstep and understand better how we can help look after it. Taking part in the John Muir Award has helped build teamwork as well as increase pupils’ self-confidence and communication skills. I am now looking forward to working with the Balfron pupils to enable them to carry out peer education within their school.

As part of the ‘sharing’ part of the award the young people arranged an evening at Balfron High School, where they showcased their experiences to family, friends and the organisations, that helped them. During the event one of the pupils,16 year old Sarah Oswald became the 100,000th recipient of the John  Muir Award in Scotland.