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Outdoor training goes Gaelic

Monday 9th October 2017, 4:32pm

A project to boost the delivery of outdoor activity training through the Gaelic language has been launched at Glenmore Lodge.

The Spòrs Gàidhlig project will eventually see four people trained to deliver a wide range of outdoor activities to Gaelic speaking young people and other groups.

The first 12-month project, which will run until September 2018, has already seen three people employed by Spòrs Gàidhlig, who are now based at Glenmore Lodge: a project co-ordinator; and two ‘Gaelic language trainee instructors’.

The £300,000 project has been developed by Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) – one of Scotland’s longest-established Gaelic development organisations, and is being taken forward thanks to a funding and strategic partnership including the LEADER programme in the Cairngorm National Park (£90k), Comunn na Gàidhlig’s own investment (£54k), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (£40k), the Scottish Government (£30k), Bòrd na Gàidhlig (£30k), and the AMW Charitable Trust (£2k).

As the new trainee instructors gain their outdoor qualifications over the next 12 months, they will be able to provide activity sessions to Gaelic speakers and others, in a range of activities including hill-walking, gorge-walking, canoeing and rafting, mountain biking, and bushcraft.

The project is being managed by Donald Morris, and the new trainee instructors are Calum MacLean and Euan Mackenzie.

Calum, from Inverness, has worked with the BBC as a Gaelic news journalist, and has recently presented a series of short programmes on wild swimming at various locations in Scotland. Euan, from Dingwall, has a background in environmental science, and was also an international youth camp leader in Madagascar.

The second year of the project will see a further two trainee instructors employed.

Project Manager Donald Morris said: “There is a growing demand for outdoor and adventurous activities in Gaelic. Our Sradagan camps have grown in number each year; we’ve rolled out a ‘John Muir Award’ programme across six of our development areas; we’ve established a successful ski camp onto our annual programme; and this year we ran our first cycle adventure for young people – from Barra to the Butt of Lewis. All of these activities motivate young Gaelic-speakers and help them use their language in a fun, social setting. We want to do more of this, but the one key limitation we have in expanding this provision further is the lack of qualified, Gaelic-speaking instructing staff. Spòrs Gàidhlig is intended to address this.”

The key funder in the Spòrs Gàidhlig project is the LEADER 2014-20 programme in the Cairngorms National Park. Roger Clegg, Chair of the Cairngorms Local Action Group said: “We are pleased to be able to approve LEADER funding to support Spòrs Gàidhlig and welcome the launch of this interesting and innovative project which fits well with several of the themes in the Local Development Strategy”.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “We are very pleased to support the Spòrs Gàidhlig project which will play an important role in bringing Gaelic alive in new and exciting ways for our young people and others.

“The Scottish Government recognises that Gaelic is an integral part of Scotland's heritage, national identity and current cultural life and we welcome initiatives such as this.”

Shaun Roberts, Glenmore Lodge Principal, said: “A positive early outdoor experience will connect young people with their natural environment. This connection typically establishes a life-long relationship with the outdoors, which in turn can lead to a healthy active lifestyle. Gaelic is the language of our Highland landscapes.”