A project in Falkirk is encouraging local people to get outside, get active and engage with outdoor facilities in their local area.
Launched in January 2021, Fit For Life: Head Outside is an outdoor/parks programme containing a series of self-guided walks, cycle trails, and activities that incorporate learning opportunities and mindfulness while helping to showcase the areas flagship sites. The project, run by Falkirk Community Trust aims to create a habit of being active and using the outdoors as a safe and fun place to be.
The activities were designed to meet at least one of the five NHS steps to mental wellbeing and aiming to:
- Give lots of ideas to help users be active at a pace and time that suits them
- Encourage participants to join in with family and friends
- Develop new skills and have fun at the same time as keeping active
- Inspire the local community and visitors to visit the local parks to discover more about the facilities on their doorsteps
Jillian Schofield, marketing team lead for Falkirk Community Trust said:
“With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting on many families’ disposable income, for many, access to parks with free or low-cost activities available has been a great support and in some cases a lifeline.”
Previous self-guided, and holiday-themed trails were adapted and expanded with all the trails available to access on the Falkirk Community Trust website. The trails also incorporate fun quizzes and treasure hunts to encourage families to take part in physical activity together.
With support from the Scottish Government’s, Scotland Loves Local fund, aimed at revitalising local communities, the project has been able to reach a wider audience, with links to the wider Falkirk Council Recovery Plan and in particular the local area plans, which support accessibility of green spaces within a 5-minute walk.
The project has also worked closely with other community groups such as local cycling and walking groups and other partners like Friends of Kinneil and the Active Travel Hub Falkirk to make sure the project is as inclusive as it can.
Increase in steps
The project has become an important part in residents’ daily routines with an increase of between 30-40% in visitor numbers to the parks. This has led to new car parking and litter bins to be installed across the sites.
The project is said to have not just improved users’ physical health, but their mental health as well, by helping to reduce stress levels when out enjoying nature with family or friends.
“Fit For Life: Head Outside has allowed us to showcase the many activities we have on offer as well as our beautiful green spaces which have been very well received.
“We are delighted that more people are discovering and appreciating these green spaces and we hope that new life-long habits have been established.”