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Leicester’s youth explore wildlife on city’s waterways

26 July 2017


Canoeing up the River Soar to set wildlife camera traps, detecting bats in Saddington Tunnel and learning how canal locks work are all part of a new programme for young people in Leicester this summer.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the pilot programme was created by the Somali Community Parents Association (SOCOPA) in partnership with the Canal & River Trust (CRT), Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre and Cardiff University’s Sustainable Places Research Institute. The programme has been developed following a series of taster sessions in 2016 which enabled young people to try activities such as canoeing, boat trips and health walks.

The first group of young people, of Somali heritage from St Matthew’s in Leicester, will learn practical canoeing skills as well as basic research techniques in observing and recording wildlife and sampling water quality.

The group will develop their team work and communication skills and hope to gain a certificate from the John Muir Award when they finish in September.

Dr Hannah Pitt from the Sustainable Places Research Institute said "Our research into waterways found that it can take a sustained programme of engagement to encourage people to begin using them. This project offers just that for groups of people we found to be currently very unlikely to be benefiting from Leicester's waterway environments. It's great to continue working with SOCOPA and CRT to help understand the value of this work and how it can be maximised".

Speaking as the programme got underway, Abdikayf Farah, SOCOPA Chief Executive said ‘we are delighted to be awarded funding from HLF to deliver this project for young Somalis in Leicester. It will give them new opportunities to learn about the natural world on their doorstep, gain new experiences and build their self-confidence and personal skills."

The Leicester Young Ecology Adventurers Communications (LYEC) Programme learn how to canoe starts on 20th July and ends on 28th September with a final graduation in October.

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