Nature Freedom - an organisation for everybody

Mathew Townsend

Session type: Regular forum session

Key words: Disability; mental health; young people; employment; environment; adventure

Abstract

Enjoying the natural environment may seem like it’s just for people who have access to their passions. The reality of how organisations run their programs is that they are designed from an able-bodied or “neurotypical” perspective. Mainstream environmental and outdoor recreational organisations implicate their lack of awareness towards the diversity of people within their communities, which causes disengagement and anxiety from participants who are unable to access these services due to their design. An individual with high-functioning Autism, with anxiety and/or depression is already at a disadvantage to enabling their participation due to their own limitations, and are less likely to advocate for their own needs in a non-inclusive social setting. To maintain their passions within the natural environments, inclusive groups such as Nature Freedom are key to encouraging engagement within this diversity group.This seems quite problematic to many young individuals with disabilities and mental health today. Nature Freedom is a solution to addressing to multiple experiences foregoing positive change creating opportunities offering inclusion and accessibility for their needs. As a not-for-profit social enterprise we focus on supporting and maintaining lives with disabilities and mental health as much as young people without those. Training, skilling, paid employment, social opportunities and leadership is core focus of Nature Freedom’s growth as an organisation for individual choices and passion. Natural environments is big world for many young people, although accessibility and inclusion is addressable concern that Nature Freedom is driving positive change in tourism, recreational, transport and environmental industries.
The presentation outcomes will give you an insight and aspiration that why young children and young adults today deserve a second chance for their meaningful participation with natural environments. Loving, nurturing and compassion that we are after for many generations to come.