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TRASHMOB ACADEMY - Reconnecting Young People with Nature

Now in its 3rd week, the TRASHMOB ACADEMY is having a noticeable impact on the young people involved in the project!


The young people that Jo looks after at the Wakefield PRU often present with low self-esteem, low confidence and little sense of connection with the natural world. This has contributed to behavioural problems that resulted in mainstream education not working out for them, and is something that has proved difficult to change for the better.


The TRASHMOB ACADEMY has incorporated trail shredding and environmental education with #purposefuladventure to change the young people’s outlook on their world. Before starting the TRASHMOB ACADEMY, they didn’t want to go to school, often acted out in class and bullying and racism was an issue. They also had little concern for the environment, and would litter because it was easy and they didn’t care.


After only 2 sessions, a lot has changed! Jo noticed her students were more confident- speaking out against bullying and racism in class. They are getting on better with each other and with teachers, and are more focused in the classroom. They are keen to support fellow students, sharing newly learnt skills from their MTB coaching sessions whilst taking pride in their achievements. From session 1 their attitudes towards litter also U turned, with students picking up litter without encouragement telling their parents they won’t be dropping litter any more. They are “buzzing”, feeling “so good” and “amazing” to be a part of the TRASHMOB ACADEMY. One parent even mentioned that their child WANTS TO GO TO SCHOOL, something that has never happened before!


Instead of watching popular video game videos on the internet and only ever wanting to play video games, these young people are watching MTB videos, and asking about how they might be able to go fishing or camping, expressing a genuine interest in wanting to spend more time in the great outdoors. Some individuals have even expressed an interest in becoming pro MTB riders!


The benefits of the TRASHMOB ACADEMY aren’t limited to the students self-esteem, confidence and nature connection, however…


Jo has been incorporating TRASHMOB related content into the other curriculum lessons, resulting in a more holistic education - something that we feel is missing from mainstream education. This lack of integrated education in the mainstream might be why some young people don’t respond well to mainstream teaching; they don’t see the point in studying maths and English separately if they can’t make the link between the two, for example.


Students at the Wakefield PRU are learning how to make healthy ride snacks in their cooking lessons, introducing them to different, healthier, energy rich foods instead of reaching for an energy drink (also taking into account the reduced packaging!) . In history lessons, they are learning about 'big' companies and their impact on the environment, which sparks conversations around anti-litter campaigning. Their Personal, Social Health and Economic education (PSHE) lessons are about citizenship and working in the community. The Princes Trust “Achieve” lessons consider participating in exercise, and keeping healthy. In their geography lessons, students have been discussing litter collection, and receiving praise from parents and teachers for their knowledge of the topic. The TRASHMOB ACADEMY has been the base from which this terms lesson planning has revolved around.


In as little as 2 weeks, these young people have exceeded our expectations at TFT, and the expectations of their teachers and parents. The noticeable improvement in their academic, social and psychological ability is truly inspiring and we are only half way through this inaugural TRASHMOB ACADEMY. We are, therefore, so excited to see what these and other young people might achieve in the future. If you know of a similar group that might like to be a part of the TRASHMOB ACADEMY, please get in touch!


Words by Richard Breeden


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