Walking Project - Balerno Footsteps

Overview
This is an intergenerational walking project (age range 16-97), where Balerno Footsteps 4 Fitness (BF4F) brought together frailer and less mobile older people living in local sheltered housing complexes with S6 pupils from Balerno High School, acting as helpers, for 4 minibus outings to interesting local places for short walks in July and August 2011. The programme of walks was preceded by briefing and “get to know you” sessions for the two groups and followed by an informal ceilidh. The intention was to demonstrate that, by extending the young people’s role beyond simply offering an arm where needed, a wide range of additional benefits might accrue for both groups. The project was funded by the Big Lottery 2014 Communities Fund.

Balerno Footsteps 4 Fitness is a health walks project, originally established in 2003 and run by the Community Education Department at Balerno High School. Aimed at people living in the Balerno, Currie and Juniper Green areas of Edinburgh, the initiative offers a varied programme of sociable group walks, led by a rota of friendly, trained walk leaders. It received three year funding from Paths to Health for a part time project worker in 2004. Since this ended in August 2007, the initiative has been operating on a self-run basis, with continuing support from Balerno High School.

Benefits for the Community
The initiative was an important learning experience for both groups, and contributed to understanding between the generations. The initiative has had a positive impact on relations between the generations, increasing mutual respect and understanding between the two groups.

Benefits for the Younger People
Through working with different groups, the young people learnt to interact with different people developing interpersonal skills which were beneficial for their CVs and future employment.

Benefits for the Older People
The experience gained by BF4F has highlighted the needs of older people. Many have commented, for example, that they do not feel safe walking on their own and that the opportunity to walk in company is a major focal point of their week. The walks thus offer more than purely physical benefits, and clearly contribute to participants’ mental health and general wellbeing in other ways, as well as having wider community benefit. The older people commented on the importance of the walks in their lives and appreciated the fact that they went to places regular buses didn’t go.

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF):

Scottish NPF Objectives
The main NPF objective that this project contributes to is:
• Healthier will enable people to live longer and healthier lives.

These NPF objectives could also apply:

• Safer and Stronger aims to help local communities to flourish and become stronger, safer places to live.
• Smarter will focus on improving literacy, numeracy and attainment and on raising and realising ambition for all.
• Greener supports the sustainable use and enjoyment of Scotland’s natural and built environment. It also underpins much of Scotland’s wealth creation. Focus on the responsibility to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment for future generations.

Scottish NPF Outcomes
Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens:  To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.

We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others: Being part of a strong community gives us the support we need locally. It minimises crime, antisocial behaviour and their social and economic costs.

We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.

Our people are able to maintain their independence as they get older, and are able to access appropriate support when they need it: Providing high quality care and support to an ageing population is a fundamental principle of social justice and is an important hallmark of a caring and compassionate society. Collectively we need to give priority to ensuring that older people receive the care, compassion, support and dignity they need and deserve.

We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger: Communities and people can only flourish and reach their potential when they are protected and they feel safe.

We value and enjoy our built and natural environment and protect it and enhance it for future generations: Scotland's built and natural environment is a major asset for us to enjoy in life and business. That is why we need to protect and enhance it.

Email: Christopher Pilley, Balerno Community High School, Community Education Department

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