The rewarding results of #itsgreatoutthere grants

One of the most rewarding aspects for everyone involved in our movement is receiving news of how an #itsgreatoutthere grant has helped introduce young people to the outdoors for the first time. Our grant programme was launched in 2017 and we’ve already supported 17 projects of different sizes and types around Europe, directly benefiting around 5,300 people. In our first round of grants in 2020, we backed two great initiatives and they have recently reported back after a successful summer.

En Passant par la Montagne takes young people outdoors in Chamonix

The En Passant par la Montagne (‘Through the Mountain’) initiative allows young people and adults in underprivileged or challenging circumstances (social marginalisation, failing in school/school dropouts, dealing with sickness or disability) to access the mountains and outdoor sports as a source of motivation and support to rise above their current situation. Backed by an #itsgreatoutthere grant of €5,000, this summer the project has focused on three neighbourhoods: Les Pelerins in Chamonix Mont-Blanc; Vouilloux in Sallanches; and Ewues in Cluses.

With support from our friends at Outdoor Sports Valley (OSV), the En Passant par la Montagne team took up residence in Les Pelerins at the start of August, kicking off activity with an orienteering race that was enjoyed by 40 very motivated and happy children. This set the scene for what followed, as the young people experienced an exciting programme during the month. They met writer and director of L’ascension, Nadir Dendoune, and went climbing at Les Gaillands.

A fun and fulfilling adventure

Barbara Comte, from En Passant par la Montagne, reported back to us after the climbing experience: “The opportunity to climb, have fun and get out of their neighborhood, under the supervision of high mountain guides, was a first for many and a real challenge, and for others, a rediscovery of the outdoors. Some parents who accompanied their children were even able to take part. Eyes shone and the smiles were wide, both on the side of the young people and their proud parents.”

The project didn’t end at Les Gaillands, but moved on to the Feast of the Pilgrims in September, and an amazing array of activities, such as climbing, slacklining, zip lining, mountain reading, tipi camping, and live entertainment. Two more activities are lined up to complete the 2020 programme.

From the fringes of education to exploring a rock face

The second project that we supported in the first round of #itsgreatoutthere grants in 2020 involves CREPS Auvergne Rhône Alpes (CREPS are local centres for sports development located throughout France), which has been working in close collaboration with the Ternua Group (an It’s Great Out There Coalition Founding Member) and the local southern Ardèche mission. We assisted with a grant of €1,000. Together, the partners have given young people on the fringes of the education system opportunities to explore nature and take part in outdoor activities. This summer, they delivered an exciting multi-pitch climbing experience, which was transformational for those who took part.

When asked about how they felt before the experience, the young people described their nervousness and motivation.

A transformational experience for young people

Noé said: “I was afraid of not getting along with the rest of the group.”

Océane added: “I didn’t know how I was going to react in the activity, was I going to be afraid of heights?”

Clément explained why taking part was so important: “I needed change, to challenge myself.”

Afterwards, it was clear that they had all discovered a new confidence and passion for the outdoors.

Océane: “Multi-pitch climbing – I would like to make it my job, or to become a rope access technician.”

Clément: “I succeeded in surpassing what I thought that I could do! As soon as the opportunity arises again, I will go, whatever the proposed activity.”

Noé: “I really liked the descent, the picnic by the lake, the magnificent setting, the explanations, the sunsets, the interviews, the via corda, the abseil, the multi-pitch route and of course the guides! The thing that I loved most was the overall experience – to have left my home to discover a new place and new people, by doing something that I love. This has given me confidence and now I feel able to do it on my own.”

Responses like these are exactly the kind of results that we aim to achieve with every #itsgreatoutthere grant that we award. We don’t assume that this will happen and of course we carefully choose projects that we believe will succeed. However, there are no guarantees, so it is extremely rewarding to receive feedback like this from En Passant par la Montagne and CREPS Auvergne Rhône Alpes.

More young people to benefit from #itsgreatoutthere grants

In our second round of #itsgreatoutthere grants this year, we are awarding 10 micro-grants of €1,000 each, specifically designed to help a larger number of small projects that have struggled to get started as a result of the impact of COVID-19. Details of the successful applicants can be found HERE and we look forward to receiving more reports soon of how young people around Europe are getting more active, with a little help from us and our partners in the outdoor industry.



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