The first talk to kick-off Brampton’s Inspire programme was given today by Jo Roberts, CEO of the Wilderness Foundation. And it didn’t fall short of ‘inspiring’ as she spoke to our students about the charity’s mission to harness the power of the wilderness to transform lives.
A bit of background…
The Wilderness Foundation UK was founded in 1976 by Dr. Ian Player, international conservationist, and Sir Laurens van der Post, writer, explorer, and philosopher. Ian Player, a native of South Africa, is best known for saving the white rhinoceros from extinction.
Player established the first two protected wilderness areas in all of Africa, iMfolozi and St. Lucia in South Africa. With his Zulu guide and mentor Magqubu Ntombela, he founded the Wilderness Leadership School. At a time when it was illegal for people of different races to gather in South Africa, they established a multiracial program that became a worldwide movement dedicated to preserving wild spaces and enabling people to experience them.
But why is preserving wild space important – and relevant to young people today?
Jo talked about why people are disconnected from the wilderness and nature. For a plethora of reasons, including the explosion of the digital era, world population growth and urbanisation, people have a more limited exposure to the wilderness than ever before. There is a nature deficit and concurrently a huge growth of mental health issues.
Jo gave explained the power of nature for boosting positive mental wellbeing. For example research shows that simply seeing a tree – even in an urban setting – has the power to significantly decrease your stress levels. And the affect increases with the more trees visible.
On this basis, the Wilderness Foundation does an incredible amount of work to help link people and nature – to improve mental wellbeing via nature immersion. She also shared the work they do on developing leaders of the future to advocate for wild nature and wilderness…why protecting these areas is so vital to both humans and biodiversity, and the role young people can play in helping become Wild Ambassadors.
There are many ways to get involved with the Wilderness Foundation, including leadership programmes, Wilderness trails, local activities and fundraising. If any of our students would like to find out more, please speak to Sarah Sephton or Mike Wheeldon.