SOYT is a space for young people in Scotland to connect with like-minded individuals with a passion for the outdoors.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted two things: the importance of social connection and the outdoors. We feel that it is important that young people have ways to access both these things, as together they are paramount in supporting mental health and well-being.
The structure of SOYT aims to move away from the traditional outdoors club structure and aims to achieve the following objectives:
- Reduce barriers (e.g. gender and racial stereotypes) to participating in outdoor activities
- Promote accessibility and equality in outdoor activities
- Promote good mental health
- Promote climate action and address environmental problems within the community.
SOYT was founded in October 2020 by two friends, Emily and Oonagh. After graduating uni, they realised that post-university (or if you don’t go to uni) there is a lack of ways to meet other young people. Many young people will move to new locations after they graduate, and making new friends can be a real struggle (especially during a pandemic!). Whilst there are many outdoor and mountaineering clubs set up, they tend to be populated by older people. We wanted to create an inclusive and diverse group specifically for young people.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated many pre-existing problems in Scotland: social issues, domestic violence, substance abuse – we have the highest drug-related death rate than any other EU country. Isolation has had a devastating effect on the mental health of the Scottish people, and SOYT has the potential to combat this.
Scotland has a landscape with a lot to offer: a round of 282 ‘Munros’ (mountains over 3000ft high), nearly 20,000km of stunning coastline and hundreds of glistening lochs and rivers weaving through the highlands and lowlands. Yet only a minority of young Scottish people have the opportunity to get out and play in all that Scotland has to offer. Evidence, and human history, indicates that time spent connecting with the outdoors has positive effects on wellbeing and decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety. By connecting more young people in Scotland with the outdoors, it will decrease levels of substance abuse and mental health issues and will in turn allow more people in Scotland to have the capacity to care more about protecting the environment.