Trash Mob Academy – Outdoor education, mental rejuvenation

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‘It’s way more than just picking up litter’

Jo Shwe, Trash Free Trails

Trash Free Trails has made an impressive impression on the mountain bike community in the relatively short time since its inception. We think this next step is potentially the greatest yet. Prepare to be inspired by the power of mountain biking, and the imagination of the people behind the new Trash Mob Academy.

Anyone who has ever worked or volunteered in a school will likely recognise the challenges that some children face in accessing education, and the incredible value there is in finding a way to re-engage children with attending school and discovering their own potential. The Trash Mob Academy has been developed so that there are a variety of curriculum options to suit schools and teachers, with all the information a school need to get going (including the boring stuff like liability insurance) pulled together in one clear package.

It doesn’t require access to mountain bikes – if that’s not practical there are other options that still allow engagement with the environment. Head to the Trash Mob Academy site to find out more.

Perhaps you can share the news with your kids’ school and get a Trash Mob Academy up and running? Maybe you’re that teacher who can inspire a class into discovering a new sport, the world around them, and some new skills?

Here’s the official press release:

Trash Free Trails launches outdoor educational course to tackle environmental disconnection in young people

Trash Free Trails (TFT) are kick starting their first educational offering for young people this Autumn, in a bid to revitalise the potential of outdoor education to support wellbeing and nature connection in young people.

The TrashMob Academy is a unique youth engagement project offering young people the opportunity to learn mountain biking, running and hiking skills whilst developing positive environmental attitudes, connections to nature and understanding of litter. 

Using outdoor education as a catalyst for behaviour change, the TrashMob Academy employs a combination of classroom content, outdoor physical activity and local trail cleaning to improve self esteem, confidence and wellbeing for both students and their local environment.

Designed to address increasing disconnection from nature felt by children and the ongoing rise in mental health difficulties across the youth population, the TrashMob Academy draws from a breadth of established research advocating for the benefit of outdoor education on mental and psychological well being. (Hartig, 2007 and Natural England, 2016) 

The programme advocates for the necessity of kinesthetic and outdoor learning opportunities for children and adolescents, most especially those with additional needs, with limited access to green space, and for those facing the adverse effects of social inequality. (Wells & Evans, 2003) 

Delivered as a pilot programme in Wakefield in 2020, the TrashMob Academy has already had incredible successes. Students who completed the pilot displayed a renewed sense of responsibility and confidence by the end of the course, with profound development seen in their interpersonal skills and self-expression. (Trash Free Trails, 2020) Now in its final form, the programme is available as an integrated curriculum item or as a bolt-on activity in schools and educational settings.

To kick start the programme’s official launch, TFT will take the TrashMob Academy ‘on tour’, delivering the course to three schools in North West England. A remote version of the programme’s content is available via the release of TFT’s first E-Learning course with online learning provider Udamon, called ‘Contribution for Connections’.

Speaking to the value of the TrashMob Academy, Trash Free Trails Programmes Manager Rich Breedon shares:

“Giving young people the opportunity to experience the world around them in a way they might never have previously is something really special. We believe this opportunity is a stepping stone to developing the generation of happy, healthy environmental stewards our world desperately needs.”

Schools and educational professionals are encouraged to engage with the programme in whatever way suits them. Whether it be incorporating the E-Learning course into an established curriculum, to embedding the six-week fully-fledged TrashMob Academy programme into the academic year, Trash Free Trails have created an adaptive education offering with young people and planet at its heart.

To join TrashMob Academy LIVE on October 21st, head here to book your free place! 

Trash Free Trails – TrashMob Academy project partners

Trash Free Trails would like to thank their supporting partners, whose donations go way beyond the financial:


Trash Free Trails, (2020), ‘TrashMob Academy Pilot Report 2020’,

Hartig, T., (2007) ‘Three steps to understanding restorative environments as health resources’, in Ward Thompson, C., Travlou, P., eds., Open Space: People Space (Abingdon, UK: Routledge)

Natural England, (2016), ‘Links between natural environments and physical activity: evidence briefing’, in ‘Natural England Access to Evidence Information Note EIN019’, Natural England,

Wells, N. & Evans, G.W., (2003) ‘Nearby Nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children’, in ‘Environment & Behaviour’ Vol 35:3, pp.311-330,

Thanks to Richard Baybutt for all the images.

While You’re Here…

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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  • stwhannah
    Full Member

    Giving this a bump because the video is now live and watching it will make your day better.

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