Centre for Outdoor Health
The Centre for Outdoor Health is located 1 mile from the Carmarthen campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (SA31 3QU). It sits within a rural, farmland setting on the edge of the town and has access to the River Towy and the All Wales Coastpath.
Recent investment in the centre has built on the well-established Forest School site to include a Willow plantation and learning space, as well as a bespoke mountain bike track and adjacent camping area.
The Centre acts as a the coordinating base for a range of outdoor health initiatives linked to rurality, social/green prescribing and wellbeing, including Social Forestry (SF), Nature Connection and Sense of Place approaches as well as supporting initiatives on the Carmarthen campus of UWTSD.
Social Forestry supports people to develop employability skills in woodland management and conservation work/sustainability. SF is based on the promotion of woodland-based activities (e.g., bushcraft, arts & crafts, nature connection, conservation work) that encourage caring for the forests whilst supporting participants’ wellbeing. Courses are on-going throughout south-west Wales with participants from rural areas, including individuals diagnosed with social anxiety, depression and substance abuse problems.
Nature Connection involves facilitated sessions for mental health and wellbeing trainers with local groups and organisations. Working with colleagues in the Psychology Department training courses are being developed to explore the use and organisation of outdoor activities/settings for mental health practitioners.
Sense of Place approaches are led by Dr. Andy Williams and seek to better connect local people with their local environments. Underpinned by an approach built around providing opportunities that are local, accessible and sustainable, Sense of Place approaches explore the rich social and cultural history of local places to help build resilient and healthier communities in line with the 7 Wellbeing Goals of the Future Generations Act.
Walks have been developed in the villages of Llanstephan and Bronwydd Arms as well as Abergwili, Ferryside and along the River Towy valley between Carmarthen and Llandeilo. Further afield in Pembrokeshire walks explore the eastern River Cleddau and Preseli Hills around Crymych, as well as woodland walks linking Llanlawddog and Narberth and Blackpool Mill near Slebech.
Carmarthen campus initiatives. Working with the newly appointed Carmarthen campus Provost COH is involved in supporting the development of a healthy campus for UWTSD students through the establishment of local walking routes on and around the campus that are easily accessible for students, staff and the local community and promote active lifestyles. In addition, COH is taking forward an initiative to revitalise an allotment on the campus that will support students in growing their own food as well as being more active outdoors.