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Into the Surrey Hills – new Girlguiding badge

A new Girlguiding badge has been launched in Surrey to encourage Rainbows, Brownies and Guides to get outdoors and explore the fantastic countryside on their doorstep and understand more about the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The initiative is good news in a world where young people are consistently spending more time indoors and statistics show mental health disorders amongst young people are on the increase. A recent UK government study found that 10% of respondents have not even been in a natural environment such as a park, forest or beach for at least a year. It showed that overall engagement with outside rural spaces is low in the modern age, and as you might expect, highly dependent on both the parent’s attitudes to outdoor activity and their socio-economic status.

So far groups across Surrey have embraced the new badge and worksheet which challenges young girls between the ages of 5-15 to learn about their natural environment by visiting a selection of places within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with either parents/guardians or their guiding units. An online resource is available and offers over 60 ideas of places to visit in the Surrey Hills https://www.surreyhills.org/surrey-hills-60/.
Kathryn Kelly, 1st Oxshott Rainbows, Assistant Leader and parent comments;
“My daughter Sophie (aged 6) has really enjoyed the challenge of this badge. We decided to visit the Lovelace bridges in East Horsley. We had a lovely long walk and all enjoyed finding the hidden bridges and plaques, what a lovely bit of local history to learn about. Had it not been for the badge we wouldn’t have known about this part of the Surrey Hills”.

The badge was the brainchild of the Surrey Hills Society, an independent charity, run almost entirely by volunteers that helps to raise awareness of the Surrey Hills AONB through a programme of walks, talks and events.

Stella Cantor, Surrey Hills Society Trustee comments;

“Girlguiding is the perfect partner for this project with its emphasis on enjoying the out of doors and responsible citizenship, and we aimed it at the counties of Surrey East and West as their members live in or near the AONB. I am delighted with how Girlguiding units across the area are embracing this badge. The badge provides a wonderful opportunity for young people to learn about their local area and to understand how important it is that we continue to protect this landscape for them and future generations. Young people have been very enthusiastic about exploring the Surrey Hills and this has spread to parents and guardians with many prompted to visit parts of the Surrey Hills at the weekends.”

To date nearly 1000 badges have been issued to Girlguiding groups with requests for many more. Due to the popularity of the badge the aim is to encourage Scouting groups and potentially local schools to also get involved. If you would like to find out more please email; stellac4surreyhills@gmail.com.

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