New Adventure Programme Brings Outdoor Fun to Young People in Ballynahinch

11th February 2023

On Monday 6 February 2023,17 pupils from The High School Ballynahinch took part in a Connected Adventure Programme to mark Children’s Mental Health Week.

This exciting new adventure based group project gives young people an opportunity to engage with their peers using fun, motivating and appropriately challenging activities with the goal of improving their emotional and physical wellbeing and preventing mental illness.  Participants develop their social skills and confidence within a safe, therapeutic environment. It is hoped that this preventative, innovative and high quality healthcare intervention will aid each young person to achieve their social, academic and health potential.

This one of a kind project is delivered in partnership by the South Eastern Trust’s SET Outdoors team, Connected Adventure, the GP MDT Social Work team (Montalto Medical Centre) and The High School Ballynahinch.

Clare Gardiner from the SET Outdoors team, a branch of the South Eastern HSC Trust’s Health Development Team explained, “Working therapeutically with pupils outside of the school environment allows them to experience the multiple health benefits of engaging with nature whilst capturing their sense of adventure, playfulness and fun.

The High School Ballynahinch at Connected Adventure Programme for Childrens Mental Health

“The young people engage in novel and challenging experiences with their peers and teaching staff which allows for relationships to be strengthened and mutual trust to be developed.  Young people support each other to try new things when nervous, encourage their team mates to succeed and work together to problem-solve thereby building on social skills, confidence, empathy and emotional resilience.”

Social Worker Catherine Brannigan, who is based at the Montalto Medical Centre added, “I worked with The High School Ballynahinch last year in a therapeutic capacity, I delivered a short programme with the SET Outdoors and Connected Adventure teams to introduce the children to outdoors experiences.

“This new bespoke project comes from the success of our previous work with the school and focuses on helping the young people who took part to build connections with their peers, teachers and wider environment. Having fun and learning about themselves will hopefully build confidence and support their wellbeing in all areas of their lives.”

The young people really enjoyed their experience with one exclaiming, “I had never been in a boat before today, this was so much fun, I didn’t want the day to end!”

The pupils will get to enjoy a further two sessions of the Connected Adventure Programme after the half term school holidays.