The Human-Wildlife Rehabilitation Programme
In September 2023, we will be launching our Wild Minds Programme - a yearly programme that will work with different focus groups and take them on a journey of self-development, conservation, community engagement and connection. Connection to themselves, each other and the planet.
For the first Wild Minds programme, we will be working with young Londoners, who come from challenging backgrounds and who have little opportunity to experience wilderness. This will be under the mentorship of community leader, Juan Lopez, founder of Calisseum; an organisation that uses calisthenics training to empower young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and gives them the confidence they need to grow both mentally and physically. Juan then supports these young people to develop themselves; helping them to get into education, employment and enterprise. Juan will not only help us to plan this Wild Minds Programme, but he will also act as a mentor for the group, using his extensive military experience to help deliver vital training that will get them ready for not only their experience on the programme but in their further lives.
The programme will consist of a build-up phase here in the UK. This will give the group a chance to bond and start working together as a team. They will take part in strength and fitness training, bushcraft, environmental education and nature connection activities, as well as learning key skills like map reading and developing leadership qualities.
We will then take the group to our partners in Zimbabwe, Imire Conservancy, for a bespoke, 2-week immersive community and conservation programme. Here they be joining in with Imire's vital work, including fence maintenance, dam ecology, monitoring of endangered wildlife like cheetah and rhino, and helping to look after Imire's resident orphaned elephants, Mac and Mandebvu. The group will have the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with stunning wildlife whilst learning the importance of conserving it. As well as looking after Imire's wildlife, the group will also have the opportunity to visit and support the communities bordering the conservancy and in doing so will learn about Shona culture and what life is like in rural Zimbabwe. It will be a once in a life time opportunity for the group to connect with both wildlife and people, whilst learning skills, making friends and improving their mental and physical wellbeing in the most holistic way possible.
On return to the UK, we will then be working with the group to ensure their on-going support, offering opportunities within Connected Planet and signposting to different environmental-education/employment opportunities. We want the connection they make through Wild Minds to last a lifetime!
The programme is designed to empower and build the self-esteem of those involved, whilst using nature as a way of improving the mental and physical health of the group. We believe Wild Minds will be a fantastic platform for the young people involved to turn their lives around and - at the very least - help them to find ways of letting nature be a healer and at best, empower them to go on to protect our planet for years to come.
Nature has the capability to heal us all, and we too can help heal the natural world. That is what Wild Minds is all about. A relationship between people and nature, where everyone is a winner.
In order to make this programme happen we need to raise £20,000. This will allow 6 people to go through the Wild Minds programme in what we are sure will be a life changing experience. These funds will not only support the young people involved but will also support conservation and community efforts at Imire Conservancy.