Gemma from our Waste Education team has joined forces with River Clean Up and Friends of Abberd Brook to start up a new Environmental Youth Group in Calne, River Warriors. The group has been running twice a month since November, one group is aimed at teenagers and one group for families.

Gemma tells us about who, how, why and when…

I previously worked with Francis from the Friends of Abberd Brook (FAB) and he raised his enthusiasm for starting up a youth aspect to the FAB group and the idea grew from there. With our help and Tamzyn from River Clean Up the group was born and has become increasingly popular. We set up River Warriors to engage local young people and families with nature, hoping they will aspire to better protect their local environment.

Francis told me, “I hope River Warriors gives young people the chance to get a sense of belonging to a group where they can get a buzz and improve their self-esteem when doing positive activities. It is a proven fact that improved mental health is apparent whilst working in the local environment and being in touch with nature.”

Each session starts with a litter pick, we always sort the litter into recyclables and rubbish, and we have recently started analyzing what we are collecting. The children are always disgusted at what is being thrown and what could have been recycled into something new!

During winter with the darker evenings we moved onto nature/upcycling based crafts, making bird boxes, planted daffodil bulbs or making fires and enjoying hot chocolate, but now with the lighter evenings we have stream dipped and will be enjoying a bat walk next month. In the upcoming months, River Warriors hope to be involved with some minor practical conservation tasks along the brook.

We have been delighted to attract a regular group of teenagers and families to each session, everyone always leaves with a smile on their face and enthused by their local nature.

Besides providing nature and conservation-based activities, we wanted to give the young people a voice and found that involving them in the WWT Environment Act Campaign was the perfect way to do so.

We spent some time talking through the aims of the campaign, discussing why nature is important to the young people and why politicians should make its welfare an urgent priority. Following these sessions some of the River Warriors went along to meet their local MP, James Gray to discuss their concerns for a wild future and the Environment Act. James Gray was supportive and backed the need for a Nature Recovery Network to be included in the proposed Environment Act and signed our Charter for the Environment. Overall the meeting was a success and the young people got a lot from the experience.

May onwards River Warriors will merge into one group and will continue to run by the organisation of FAB and River Clean Up, our WWT Waste Team will no longer be involved with the running of the group as we are moving on to focus our work in Trowbridge.

It has been a true pleasure to be involved with the creation of River Warriors and I will miss working with the guys from FAB and River Clean Up, but I’ll also miss the regular group we have established.

If you are interested in attending or volunteering with River Warriors then please get in touch at [email protected]

River Warriors runs on the 3rd Thursday of each month from 3.30-5pm. Booking essential!