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Cairngorms National Park hosts Conference on Encouraging Black and Minority Ethnic Youngsters to the Park

26th October 2007

A CONFERENCE is taking place in Braemar next week aimed at encouraging more black and minority ethnic people to enjoy the countryside.

The Backbone event is taking place on Monday 29th and Tuesday 30th October at Mar Lodge in Deeside. It is being organised by Backbone, an organisation which celebrates diversity through adventure, and the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), who own Mar Lodge. The Cairngorms National Park Authority’s (CNPA) Community Investment Programme is sponsoring the event.

The conference will look at how community groups who work with black and minority ethnic (BME) young people can engage them in the countryside and outdoor pursuits, as well as how to break down the barriers that prevent BME youngsters from enjoying and using the countryside.

The event is being attended by a variety of BME organisations involved in areas such as youth and community work, education and recreation.

The group will be getting out and enjoying the best of the National Park during their stay with a number of activities planned including canoeing, mountain biking, climbing and a nature walk. There will also be opportunities to meet with representatives from groups such as the John Muir Trust, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers to discuss their work and how to engage BME young people in that.

It is the first time the event has taken place in the Scotland and around 30 people are expected to attend.

It will also help to meet one of the aims of the National Park – to promote understanding and enjoyment (including enjoyment in the form of recreation) of the special qualities of the area by the public.

Eric Baird, Deputy Convener of the CNPA, said: “The Cairngorms National Park Authority is pleased to be involved in this event as it aims to break down the barriers that black and minority ethnic people may feel stop them enjoying the Park.

“One of the key messages of the Cairngorms National Park is that it is a Park for All. This event will allow people who may not normally visit or enjoy the countryside to experience why it is a special and fun place to visit. Hopefully they will be able to give that message to others, so that there are no barriers to those who want to come and enjoy such important areas.”

Julia Duncan, Outdoor Action Manager for the National Trust for Scotland, added: “Mar Lodge Estate is a great example of where people have the opportunity to relate to Scotland’s beautiful natural heritage, perhaps through volunteering with the Trust, or simply walking and enjoying the surroundings. We hope this conference can offer some exciting opportunities for all concerned.”

For more information on this event please contact Pammy Johal, Backbone, on 07825 604 003.