The Wild Youth Hills Explorer Programme took place in August this year.

Every summer Belfast Hills Partnership welcomes young people to the Belfast Hills to participate in The Hills Explorer Programme. Young people, aged between 16 to 18 years old, take part in four outdoor nature sessions across the Belfast Hills. In addition to offering participants the chance to explore nature, the Hills Explorer Programme aims to improve the health and wellbeing of those taking part with sessions based around the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.

This year’s Hills Explorers were very busy and got to experience different sites in the Belfast Hills. For some of these young people this was their first time visiting places like Colin Glen and Cave Hill. When visiting Divis and the Black Mountain they got the opportunity to use polaroid cameras for the first time. This gave the young people a new perspective on this site.

The Hills Explorers went hiking, discovered wildlife, participated in practical conservation sessions, and created art pieces in nature. They got to meet a host of artists and professionals working in the outdoor sector. This provided an insight into potential career paths.  In recognition of their dedication and hard work the young people gained a nationally recognised John Muir Award and a Wild Youth Silver Award in the process!

The Adventures of Colin the Wood Mouse

As a way to share what they have learnt and inspire others, the Hills Explorers created a short educational animation. After much consideration they decided to raise awareness around the importance of making space for wildlife within cities and urban green spaces. The video follows Colin the wood mouse on his adventures through the chaos of Belfast. Watch below to find out how he navigates the city as a small woodland creature. The video challenges our perception of where nature can be found, encouraging us to give consideration to the space wildlife inhabits.

Watch The Adventures of Colin the Wood Mouse.

The Hills Explorer Programme is part of Wild Youth. Wild Youth is a joint project between Belfast Hills Partnership and Ulster Wildlife, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland and the Breedon Group.  Wild Youth delivers wild wellbeing sessions with young people in and around the Belfast Hills, using nature to improve their physical and mental health.