Participants in the North York Moors Wainstones guided walk.  Photo: Ahsin Safeer 1200

Participants in the North York Moors Wainstones guided walk. Photo: Ahsin Safeer 1200

A national park is on the lookout for volunteers from more diverse backgrounds to join its roster of walk leaders.

The North York Moors authority is staging two taster sessions for potential recruits in July and August.

Park bosses say they want to widen the range of age groups and backgrounds to enable people to get more out of the landscape and boost their wellbeing. The authority is seeking leaders and back-up supporters as part of the national park Breath of Fresh Air walking programme.

A North York Moors National Park Authority spokesperson said: “Spurred on by a special celebratory 70th anniversary event in May, organised in partnership with the inspirational Muslim Hikers group to champion diversity in the great outdoors, the national park is particularly keen to attract more walk leaders from under-represented communities.

“During the day more than 70 people from a range of different backgrounds joined a walk taking in the Cleveland Hills along the Cleveland Way national trail. The event acted as an icebreaker and confidence-booster for many of the group for whom it was either their first time visiting the national park or going on a guided walk.

“Some of those have since repeated the experience by joining one of the free Breath of Fresh Air organised walks.”

Emma Mckenzie, the North York Moors national park’s events engagement officer, said: “There is so much evidence now that getting outside in beautiful landscape can help improve our health and wellbeing and this is one of the reasons why our free guided walks are already popular.

“Now we’re hoping to expand the annual programme to broaden its appeal, particularly as one of the things that can hold some communities back is when they don’t see themselves represented in a group.

“The 70th celebration walk demonstrated this perfectly as it really highlighted just how many people from all walks of life and backgrounds can join the same walking group and get so much enjoyment and pleasure out of spending time in the national park.

“By having volunteers from different communities and backgrounds we’re hoping to reflect the message that these walks are for everyone.

“The volunteer leaders, who only have to commit to organising three walks a year, will also help shape our future programme based on what they and their communities are interested in, whether it’s walking a route that includes visiting an art gallery, stopping at a cafe, watching wildlife or photographing iconic landmarks.”

Those interested in finding out how to become a walk leader, which includes travel expenses and other benefits, can join a 5km stroll with the national park team to chat about the training and support that is given, on either 26 July at Sutton Bank National Park Centre or 13 August at Danby Lodge National Park Centre.

More information on walk leader volunteer opportunities is available on the North York Moors website.

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