A new campaign to inspire more young women to get outside and enjoy nature has been unveiled on World Mental Health Day.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Young Scot have been working with teenage girls to design #GirlsGetOot, a social media campaign aimed at breaking down the barriers to getting outdoors.
Visiting the outdoors can improve physical and mental health but surveys have shown that girls aged 15-17 are significantly less likely to be active outside than their male counterparts.
Research with young volunteers found that issues such as gender expectations, social pressures, body image and perceptions about the cost can all prevent young women from experiencing nature.
Animations designed in collaboration with teenage girls will highlight how simple activities such as going for a walk with friends, listening to music outdoors or sharing photos of nature are free, fun and can help relieve the stress experienced by many young women.
The social media campaign, announced ahead of the International Day of the Girl on October 11, will target teenage girls between 14 and 18-years-old as part of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018.
You can access the Freshspace report here.
SNH Chief Executive Francesca Osowska will this week complete a 1,300-mile cycle trip across Scotland to raise awareness of how getting out in nature can help everyone’s mental and physical health.
She said: “I love being active, especially when I can combine it with experiencing Scotland’s magnificent outdoors, so I am really passionate about encouraging young women to realise the great opportunities open to them in getting outside – it really is key to long-term good physical and mental health.
“That’s why I’m delighted to support this joint project, which has engaged directly with teenage girls to seek their solutions to tackle the barriers to participation, and their suggestions to inspire other young women to enjoy the outdoors in a fun, digital-led way.”
The #GirlsGetOot campaign has been developed as part of Freshspace, a partnership between SNH, Young Scot and young female volunteers, and will launch later this autumn.
Alex O’Reilly, 15, who was involved in the project, said: “What I love most about being outdoors is its ability to boost your mood, the sense of adventure and of course the fresh relaxing air.
“It was an honour to contribute to help spread such an important and significant message – go outdoors!”
Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, said: “This project provides valuable insight into how young women experience nature as gendered space and how this creates barriers to their engagement.
“Through the co-design process, young women have worked closely with SNH and Young Scot to create a digital resource which will inspire and encourage young women across Scotland to see nature as a space for all.
“Freshspace is a fantastic way of showing how young women can improve their physical and mental health by getting out and making the best of Scotland’s beautiful natural spaces.”