Get Out Get Active promotes inclusive walks with Project M.A.D Hikers
Our partners Disability Sport Wales are working with Project M.A.D Hikers to help those with mental health issues embrace the great outdoors. With Disability Sport Wales, Get Out Get Active is supporting Project M.A.D Hikers as it builds a community for those addressing mental health challenges.Project M.A.D (mental health, anxiety and depression) Hikers was formed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and uses walking, hiking and outdoor activities to promote the positive effects of physical activity in North Wales.
The pandemic had a huge effect on those who have struggled with mental health conditions. Lack of resources and waiting lists were some of the most common barriers people faced.
The GOGA Wales team, in partnership with Pride Cymru, reached out to those who were struggling with their mental health, especially those in LGBTQ+ communities. The team also provided DIT Training and Mental Health First Aid training so the group were better able to support those in mental health crisis.
Planning routes with accessibility in mind, the team made sure activities were well-suited to those with anxiety in social situations, as well as those who struggled with large crowds. Many of the walks took place off the beaten path, which allows members to feel more comfortable.
I would NEVER have done this, only for the confidence and support and the ‘I don’t give a damn’ approach that being part of this amazing gang has given me.
M.A.D. Hikers participant
With the help of the GOGA team in Wales, the M.A.D Hikers group has gone from strength to strength since 2020. The project has welcomed over 371 participants, and has 86 members in its WhatsApp group. This allows people to plan routes, share stories and stay connected, which helps promote a strong sense of belonging within the group.
The sessions have not only promoted the benefits of physical activity, but have also increased wellbeing and resilience. Many participants also feel that the activities and training have helped reduce feelings of mental health stigma.
The GOGA team in Wales are continuing to support the group by setting up a M.A.D. Dogs Committee for volunteers, as well as a Mini M.A.D. Hikers group for those with children.
Project M.A.D Hikers are now also running M.A.D Adventures, which helps bring people together through outdoor activities like kayaking and caving. They since connected with Aura to encourage the use of leisure centres, football pitches, libraries, skate park and cafes.
This story is part of our campaign, #TheGOGAWay. Showing how the GOGA approach can help organisations do things differently across the UK.
About Get Out Get Active
Get Out Get Active (GOGA) is a programme that supports disabled and non-disabled people to enjoy being active together. Activity Alliance is the creator and lead partner. The programme is funded by Spirit of 2012, Sport England and London Marathon Charitable Trust.