Ashton youth leaders climb Toubkal, Morocco

Ashton youth leaders climb Toubkal, Morocco

By Col Stocker

A group of young leaders from Ashton Youth Club plan an expedition to Toubkal, Morocco, showing that despite where you live or background, you can achieve great things.

Within disadvantaged communities where young people may struggle with confidence and have low aspirations, or those from ethnically diverse backgrounds where there is less of a culture when it comes to undertaking adventurous outdoor activities, there may be barriers to accessing outdoor opportunities.

But of course, when you get a group genuinely enthused and recognise the benefits of being outdoors then they can make amazing things happen and by supporting them inspiration can filter through those communities.

Trekkers following a mule up path in Morrocco
Lindley Educational Trust certainly know the significance of high quality outdoor learning and over the last few years we’ve had the pleasure of supporting the direct impact youth and community work they do in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester and Pitsmoor, Sheffield.

Earlier this year Lindley’s Head of Centres, Mark Williams got in touch about work they were doing to support some of their young leaders.

“We have a group of young leaders from Afghan, Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, whom we have worked with for several years as part of Ashton Youth Club (AYC). They have been attending for several years and are taking the steps to put something back. This group are highly enthused to do activities in the outdoors and are starting the journey of introducing other children to the outdoors. They are now helping AYC as volunteers and casual workers and we are helping them gain more skills and most importantly experience.
So when asked how we could help them, they said they wanted to do something really adventurous as a group. Like climb a big mountain.”

Off the back of those early discussions, they went about hatching plans to train for and complete a mountaineering trip to the High Atlas and climb Toubkal. The initial eight young leaders had all been to Scotland in winter and have been developing an increasing interest in these kinds of adventurous activities. So this trip was a chance to widen their horizons and give them a chance to do something that they never thought they would. The group then had regular meet up’s to plan their expedition, undertake skills training and organised some young people led fundraising events. It was wonderful to be able to support them in working towards achieving their goal.

The work being done by Lindley is very much focused on the long term and this expedition really helped take the leaders outdoor journey to that next level.

"I never thought I could push myself this hard, I've leant so much about myself"

Tents set up at Toubkal mountain camp

So it's really special to see individuals within the group achieve their personal challenges, but also how these young leaders can become real inspirational role models within their community to embrace the benefits of the outdoors for both mental and physical health. They all continue to work for Lindley on a casual youth work basis, delivering brilliant sessions to other young people, showing that if you put your mind to something, despite the barriers and obstacles, you can achieve.

“We started working with eight young people, but sadly two had to drop out which was unfortunate. The group worked independently to support and encourage each other throughout the trip, where they demonstrated a good level of mountaineering skill and knowledge. I’m delighted to say that everyone summited Toubkal.
Following the expedition the group delivered a celebration / presentation to their community and other young people, which we feel is a powerful means of inspiring the next generation and delivers the message that despite where they live and their backgrounds, they can achieve great things.”

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