Keele interns help develop local Sustainable Exercise Partnership

Five Keele University students have partnered with YMCA North Staffordshire to help highlight sustainable exercise in the local area.

Local organisation Sustainable Exercise Partnership (StEP) - which is part of YMCA North Staffordshire - aims to bring people and organisations together by using local walks for physical activities that are sustainable, helping to improve both health and the environment of the region.

StEP utilised Keele’s Santander internship scheme to employ Rachel Mulroy and Amber Parpagga, who helped develop a new website for StEP, acting as a gateway to useful information, walks, partners, events and blogs around sustainability and health and wellbeing.

Fellow Interns Alana Wharton and Tom Partridge, both of whom are studying Environment and Sustainability, joined the project to help develop and research two accessible and safe routes that finish in the heart of Keele University campus, giving users the opportunity to walk or run from Silverdale County Park to Keele.

Alana commented: “Through mapping the walking routes on Digimap and QGIS I have been able to use the knowledge and skills from my course and apply it to support this charity. For me, it’s allowed me to gain real life work experience to enhance my job prospects for the future.

“I really wanted to be in a role that is not entirely desk based and the StEP placement allowed just that; exploring new places, meeting new people and finding fantastic walks that are right on our doorstep. I also discovered how much of a benefit being outdoors has on mental health and why it is so important to create platforms like StEP.”

The project aims to get individuals and students exploring North Staffordshire’s hidden environments as well as expanding StEP’s partnerships to spread the word of the benefits. The project now collaborates with Mondrem, who are based on Keele’s Science and Innovation Park, working together on the ‘Nurture’ project along Keele’s interconnected paths. Together, the two projects are helping to create a community who all share similar sustainability and health and wellbeing improvement values.

Co-founder of StEP, Adri Hartveld, said: “There is so much biodiversity and so many great walks in the area that people are not aware of, and we hope the project can provide an effective platform for people to explore the North Staffordshire area safely and enjoyably, helping to develop a healthy lifestyle all while learning about the sustainable practices.

“As an early stage business, employing Keele University Interns has been a huge help in getting the project off the ground. Both Tom and Alana have been fantastic and brought a lot value in the form of research and skills to help us push forward with the project.”

StEP are looking to continue their relationship with Keele through a Student Knowledge Exchange project, looking for new ways to encourage partners and the public to enjoy local spaces. For more details and to see how you can get involved, visit StEP’s website.

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