A Bristol-based youth organisation set up by a young Mendip girl to encourage inner city minority groups to visit the countryside has won the prestigious Environmental Youth Award.
Presented at the Royal Bath & West Show on Friday (2 June), the award – now in its 20th year – recognises the contribution made by young people in managing environmental projects, with the aim of promoting greater awareness of conservation matters.
Mya-Rose Craig founded Black2Nature in a bid to get Black and Asian city dwellers involved in natural history and environmental issues through walks, talks and practical experience. “I live in the rural Chew Valley but mum’s family grew up in Bristol,” she explains. “In 2015 I was organising a weekend camping and then read something about a lack of minority people getting involved in nature, so I changed the focus of the camp and decided I wanted to get some kids out of the city and into the countryside.”
Since then, Mya-Rose has held three camps and arranged a conference for leading nature organisations, with whom she is working to encourage more inner city minorities out into rural areas. “I recently got funding to do a camp for 8-11 year olds, as there are high levels of mental health issues and I want them to know they can go outside and be calm and feel better about themselves,” she adds.
Having grown up in a keen bird-watching family, Mya-Rose has visited all seven continents, given 40 public talks including at the Hay Festival this year, and has been featured or written in a wide range of environmental magazines. “It’s brilliant, seeing people when they first come on a camp – they’re not sure what’s going on or how to react,” she says. “By the end they’ve settled in and really engaged with nature – it’s fantastic to see people enjoying themselves outside.”
Chairman of judges Les Davies says: “This was a unanimous decision. We were all inspired by Mya-Rose’s approach, innovation and infectious enthusiasm for this ground-breaking project.”
The other finalists in the competition were Frogwell Green Primary School in Wiltshire, Blackbrook Community Primary School in Somerset, and All Saints CE Primary School in Dorset, all of which have been working to get pupils involved in the environment and conservation through local farm visits, tree planting, recycling and cookery clubs.