National Parks are good for you!

Over recent months, there has been a lot of talk about the importance of National Parks to the nation’s health and wellbeing. Community Champions also raised this as one of the most important reasons for getting involved in National Parks at our National Feedback Forum in October. We decided to look at this issue a bit closer.

We asked Champions in Wales to complete a survey about the impact National Parks have on them. Everyone who responded said they feel positive after visiting a National Park and for most people this feeling lasts, having a an impact on other areas of life.

‘Getting to know the National Park has definitely improved my health,’ said Brecon Beacons Champion Fateha Ahmed, ‘Visiting the National Park gives us the opportunity to be physically active in a fun way as well as making friends and sharing experiences’.

63% of Champions felt they have increased the amount of exercise they take since becoming a Champion and 75% reported feeling healthier since becoming involved in National Parks.

We also spoke to 8 Champions individually about the impact National Parks have on them. All of them spoke about the beneficial impacts of being involved in National Parks – particularly on their families.

‘My younger daughter is autistic, said Stella Djokey, a Pembrokeshire Coast Champion, ‘when we go on these visits to the National Parks she feels free, she runs around everywhere. She is liberated … and, most importantly, I can see that it changes her mood. She really enjoys these nice green spaces and I would never have found that out about her otherwise.’

Fateha’s son visited the Brecon Beacons National Park with his mother. Since then he’s been telling friends at school about it and asking the school to arrange a school visit to the Brecon Beacons National Park instead of where they normally go. He’s already becoming a campaigner for National Parks!

All Champions who were interviewed also spoke about their commitment to making sure that National Parks are there for everyone to enjoy, ‘to breathe in the fresh air ‘.

At the upcoming workshop on policy and campaigning on 31 March, we’ll be further exploring how to make that happen. We are also putting together the full results of the survey and interviews and will publish on our website shortly. Watch this space!

The Mosaic project in Wales runs in partnership with the three Welsh National Park Authorities and the YHA. The project is funded by the Big Lottery People and Places fund.