Youth group awarded for bringing path back to life

A North Lanarkshire group has won one of our prestigious awards for transforming disused land into a central walking and cycling route.

The Path Skillz Group of the Year 2019 are pictured with event host Fiona Stalker and Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick

Kyrstie Connor, a youth and early years developer at Getting Better Together in Shotts, and a team of young volunteers from nearby Calderhead High School significantly upgraded an overgrown path to put it back into community use.

The group was recognised as Path Skillz Group of the Year at our annual Volunteer Awards at the Scottish Parliament on 10th September.

Kyrstie said

I am really proud of the group for achieving this award; our volunteers put a lot of hard work into the project so it is great to see them recognised for their dedication.

The complete renovation of a local community path in Shotts town centre has had a massive impact since completion in October 2018.

It was an extremely challenging project to work on, from logistics planning to the physical work of laying 40 tonnes of path material, everyone involved really made an effort to add value to the operation.

Over the past 12 months we have received lots of positive feedback, with an almost immediate increase in dog walkers and cyclists using the path as it is now safer and welcoming.

Everyone involved in the project has had a major impact on local health as the reopening has encouraged people to manoeuvre around Shotts on foot or on bike instead of using a car.

As a community health initiative, Getting Better Together focus on ensuring members are taking measures to improve their health and wellbeing through physical activity.

Kyrstie added: “We are hopeful that by winning this award it will help us encourage more people in North Lanarkshire to be active and to use the revamped paths. We also hope to attract more volunteers as they are vital to ensure we will be able to continue this amazing work.”

Getting Better Together is a community-owned organisation, which means they are governed by local people and everything done is done to benefit local communities. 

Path Skillz, supported by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), is our award-winning, five-day learning experience for young people, equipping them with the knowledge and practical skills they need to successfully plan, manage and deliver a community path project.

Caroline Fyfe, SNH Strategic Paths and Funding Officer, said:  “We know the many health benefits that getting outside can bring and having good quality, accessible paths is so important for encouraging people to be more active and connect with nature in their local communities.
“We’ve been very pleased to support the Path Skillz programme, which has gone from strength to strength over the last three years, and provides great opportunities for disadvantaged young people to learn valuable skills and improve their communities. 

"Congratulations to Getting Better Together and the young volunteers from Calderhead High School for their fantastic achievement.”

Ian Findlay CBE, our Chief Officer said: “Getting outside and going for a walk is so valuable for our own personal health and for the health of our planet, so it’s very important to take the time to thank the volunteers from Getting Better Together.

“It’s inspiring to think that, collectively, these volunteers who are invested in making walking a bigger part of daily life are helping to incite important behavioural change.”