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Activities for all at Ardwhallan 25 February 2008

A PACKED programme of events is on offer at the Ardwhallan Outdoor Education Centre this year.

The Department of Education-run centre on the slopes of West Baldwin is based around an old farmhouse which sleeps 20 and has a lecture room and other facilities. It hosts groups from schools, youth clubs and youth organisations.

Pupils from Ramsey Grammar School and Castle Rushen High School have been involved during school time, planning and rebuilding most of the elements of the assault course in preparation for its reopening after Easter.

Work also took place over the half term holiday this month. During the volunteer week, members of a youth expedition to Skye in August 2007, youth workers, teachers and other interested young people helped in the refurbishment.

The action-packed programme of activities starts with a mountain biking residential weekend for young people in Year 9 and above on March 8/9, to be repeated in September. It will include repair skills, riding techniques and will also examine the impact mountain biking has on the environment.

Other weekends will offer introductions to sailing, kayaking and climbing, while for the even more adventurous, there are off-Island trips.

Year 10s and older will travel north to the western isles of Scotland to test their new-found skills paddling along some world famous coastlines from July 28 to August 6 as a ‘wilderness adventure’ or part of their gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.

As a follow-up to the mountain biking courses at Ardwhallan, a trip to some specially designed trails in Wales is planned for October 28-31.

Part of the Youth Division of the Department of Education, the Outdoor Education programme has as its motto ‘Taking Fun Seriously’.

Paul Young, Outdoor Education Officer for the Department of Education, said courses were about learning new skills, building confidence and being part of a team. Paul, a youth worker with more than 30 years’ experience, said courses are adjusted according to the levels of ability of those within groups.

However, participants need to bring with them ‘a sense of adventure and a willingness to learn’.

Paul is assisted by Outdoor Education Worker Paul Melling, the principal instructor at Ardwhallan, who has sailing, kayaking and climbing instructors’ qualifications to his name and is training towards his Mountain Instructors’ Award.

Places on courses are limited. To book, contact Jane Duke at the Youth Office on 686057 or email either j.duke@doe.sch.im or p.melling@doe.sch.im for further information.

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