Empowering girls through adventures in the outdoors

Girls in bike helmets in conversation

Journeys, supported by Central Otago REAP, is a programme empowering young women to take on outdoor adventure pursuits in their local environment with support from strong female role models.

It is one of the eight projects selected by Sport New Zealand to receive funding from the Innovations for Young Women Fund as an initiative which gets more girls physically active as well as developing their leadership opportunities through play, active recreation and sport.

Journeys Co-Founder Megan Longman, based in Alexandra, Central Otago, is an avid outdoors adventurer and came up with the idea while on maternity leave with a young baby.

“I was into adventure when I was young and have a lot of memorable experiences getting outdoors, but I had noticed that with everything I was doing, there were more boys and men participating than women and girls.

“We wanted to create something that changed this by working out what might be stopping women and girls getting into the outdoors and create opportunities for them in our communities to be able access and connect with their own local wild places.”

The Innovation for Young Women Funding and associated mentorship has allowed Megan and the other founders of the project to have the confidence to launch their idea and give it go.

Journeys gets young women in Central Otago taking on outdoor activities in their own backyard like mountain biking and navigating, while learning skills alongside other young women and female role models from their community.

“It gives them a chance to get outdoors, get physically active and negotiate unfamiliar challenges and see where it takes them.

“The programme looks at building self-confidence, positive mind frame and resilience, enhancing the skills of young women in the community – it’s all about connection, with others and with place,” says Megan.

Journeys isn’t just a one off for the participants either, the founders want it to be long term so they ensure the young women have the opportunity through the programme to connect with others in their community so they can continue on with the activities they have enjoyed.

Megan is looking forward to building on what Journeys is already offering, focusing on delivering a programme which focuses on quality and connection.

“It’s such a privilege to work alongside these young women and be able to build opportunities for them, connecting them to their community and role models while giving them skills for life.”

More than 45 applications were received by Sport NZ for the Innovations for Young Women Fund in which teams or organisations had the opportunity to submit their bright and creative ideas to get more young women physically active and develop leadership opportunities through play, active recreation and sport.

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