Connecting People To Natural Spaces: The Story of Skids
Shrouded in the mists of a Peruvian jungle, our very own Kylie “Skids” Skidmore took time from her travels to share her journey with Cire Community School. With her strong passion for connecting people to natural spaces, Skids believes that our kinship with the environment is an integral part of being a whole, balanced human being. Seeing the bush as a place of healing, restoration and reflection, she aims to create spaces where people who’ve felt like failures can excel and experience a sense of accomplishment, building communities based on trust and a lack of mainstream cultural or societal norms.
Skids became the first Australian to graduate from the University of New Hampshire‘s dual Master of Science/Master of Social Work in Adventure Therapy, a unique course only they offer. With three to six people selected to complete the qualification each year, it is a casual environment but also one of deeply significant and special connection. Their graduation ceremony looks nothing like the American stereotype of gowns and formality, with graduates dressed in jeans and awarded t-shirts before sharing a potluck dinner with their professors, families and friends.
The Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc describes Adventure Therapy as “a diverse field of practice combining adventure and outdoor environments with the intention to achieve therapeutic outcomes for those involved”. Skids describes it as “getting alongside people, and spending time living life together; cooking around a fire, paddling down a river or watching a sunset together. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, and there aren’t the same rules or expectations that exist elsewhere”. She also sees it as an important tool for teaching immediate, natural consequences. “If you don’t set your tent up correctly, you get wet. If you eat all your snacks day one, they’re gone. It’s much easier to see that our choices have power and determine outcomes, which can be incredibly empowering”.
Skids has a background in P.E/Outdoor Ed teaching and student wellbeing. Before departing for America, she was working with pre-dominantly indigenous youth in NSW. “The schools I worked in were really trying to catering for these young people, but the end result was still often a hostile environment, which didn’t truly acknowledge the layers of trauma these adolescents, their families and communities had and were continuing to endure at the most profound level”, Skid writes. “I also felt like the school system, as it was, was not a healing or ‘rebuilding’ place. At the time I wanted to create an alternative outdoor space, connecting people to natural spaces, where these students might flourish and reconnect to culture and country”.
Returning home to undertake her internship, while completing the associated classes online, Skids successfully applied to work with Cire. She saw it as an opportunity to research and reflect upon work she truly cared about: work that is real, immediate and important. Skids describes Cire as a place that will “take risks and follow research which invites an ongoing commitment to examining evidence, reflection, and innovation for the sake of helping our young people access tools and resources to live freer, fuller lives”.
This year, Skids will be working with Cire Community School across Outdoor Education and Student Wellbeing.
But first, she has Patagonia to explore…
For more information on Cire Community School, or to book a campus tour, please visit our website at www.cire.org.au or contact our team on 1300 835 235.