From left: A member of YCLSS, Ariana, Josh, and on the right Bob is holding Sadie who is Ariana’s daughter ( PHOTO SOPHIE BOSCHENOK)
by Sophie Boschenok
Getting out in nature can do so much more than just keep you fit
Bushwalking is a great way to keep fit and have fun whilst staying social. The young people in the Nepean Youth Community Living Support Service program have reported that being in nature helps them to lift their mood, be more relaxed, stay fit, feel more socially connected and more able to concentrate.
Beyond Blue have conducted research into green spaces (with the Beyond Blue to Green project) and found that there is a significant relationship between mental health and greenness. These studies found that being out in an open environment can boost mood and even improve depression and anxiety. The challenges of bushwalking have also helped the young people in the program to boost their self-esteem.
“I didn’t think I would be able to do it, but gave it a go anyway. It felt so good when we finished the walk” – Josh S, former YCLSS member.
Bushwalking allows us to take a break from technology and everyday stress. What more do you need to do this than being physical, fresh air, great company and feeling connected to nature.
“Being in nature helps me feel relaxed and calm. I also like that I get to do it with others in the program as it can be hard to find others to go with” – Melanie, former YCLSS member
Out at Nepean YCLSS we are lucky enough to be at the foot of the beautiful Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are about a 2-hour drive from the city of Sydney. We have done many outings at a variety of spots all the way up to Scenic World in Katoomba. One of our favourite YCLSS walks is the Charles Darwin Walk at Wentworth Falls. This walk showcases the beautiful flora, fauna and waterfalls in the mountains.
The tracks in the Blue Mountains range from easy to very hard. This means that every one of every fitness level will find a track that will be suitable for them.
Some great beginner walks are:
- The Valley of the Waters walk at Wentworth Falls
- Scenic World to the three sisters at Katoomba
- Waterfall circuit at Lawson
- Jellybean Pool and Blue Pool at Glenbrook (save this one for swimming on a hot day)
- Natural wonders at Jenolan Caves (a bit further if you are feeling adventurous)
We asked Melanie Sheppeard, a graduated YCLSS member what she thought about bushwalking
PANORAMA: What is your favourite thing about bushwalking?
MELANIE: I like being surrounded by the natural environment. It helps me to relax and calms me down if I’m feeling agitated. I also enjoy the opportunities to take beautiful photos of the scenery. I like the social aspect and had a lot of fun on the walks.
Had you ever bushwalked before joining YCLSS?
Yes. My family and I had taken regular walks when I was younger. It has become a bit harder to find the time to go walking now that I am older and have other commitments. I really enjoyed having a group to go with.
What are some of your favourite walks?
The Grand Canyon at Blackheath and the National Pass at Wentworth Falls. I enjoy these walks as I find them more challenging. The views on the National Pass are amazing.
How has bushwalking helped in your recovery journey?
It has helped me to get out of the house and do something I enjoy. I enjoy the physical challenge and as there is always something to talk about along the walk. It helped me to better get to know other YCLSS members and staff.
Penrith, Youth Community Living Support Service YCLSS
232 Derby Street PENRITH NSW 2750
(02) 9393 9779