YES Outdoors enables Islington’s young people to escape the inner-city and explore the great outdoors. There, they work together to overcome challenges and see a new side to life.
The charity was established in 2012 to work with children and young people who grow up experiencing the disruptions of gang involvement, family issues and crime. By offering activities such as mountain climbing, cycling, camping and bicycle maintenance, its qualified mentors help to change the lives of young people by providing a non-judgemental space for teamwork and achievement.
YES Outdoors takes a long-term, focused approach to working with young people. By aligning its sessions with school terms, the group emphasises the importance of learning away from the classroom. For many young people, group activities like those at school feel like a chore. Whether by camping on the mountainside, or hanging (safely) from a climbing wall, Yes Outdoors helps its members to see life with a different perspective, away from gadgets, family stresses and teachers’ instructions.
Many of the young people involved have experienced negativity and loss. YES Outdoors’ focus on adventure and exploration helps its young members to feel more positive. It offers scholastic support outside of school hours to help them focus.
By respecting our members, and listening to their concerns and issues, we gain their respect. This approach, taken by our adaptable mentors, means that behaviour is never an issue at our sessions. This surprises people.
Tony, Founder, YES Outdoors
Young people involved with Yes Outdoors often leave having made new friends. One girl found that her time with the mentors helped her to feel more confident, in herself and with others. Working with Yes Outdoors was the first time she had accepted external support for her issues with her family. She says having regular, confidential meetings with her mentor changed her life.
Islington Council, as well as local businesses, have donated materials to YES Outdoors to create new adventures. One project involved mending abandoned bicycles, which could then be used by mentees at their weekly sessions. In performing complex tasks, whether climbing a high peak or racing through white water, the trust placed in local young people by the mentors is empowering.
(All images courtesy of YES Outdoors. Full permission recieved by YES Outdoors for all image rights.)