AwareNow: Issue 18: The Outside Edition

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Page 87

Tanith: In your recent film ‘Rise Above the Fear’ you talk about how mental illness doesn’t have to hold you back. What’s your advice to other young people battling with this and how can they get involved with Spend More Time In The WILD?

Abbie: There’s a quote on our mirror that says, ‘Hold the vision, trust the process’ and I come back to that all the time, because dealing with mental health on a day to day basis is exhausting and there are days where you just don't want to. But you have to because out of the deepest darkest depths of depression, anxiety and mental illness great things can still be born. So much of mental illness comes from the fact that we are suppressed and disconnected. Healing and breakthrough can come when we say ‘Im worth more, I am enough and I don't need to fit in or conform’. After you get through the initial struggle there's a much deeper visceral place in you that feels like everything's gonna be okay. Just keep showing up on a day to day basis, be kind, compassionate and treat yourself as you treat others.

That's where WILD comes in because we are looking to build safe communities both on the ground and online that people can access as a starting place to take off their masks and be who they truly are. We also have an online community where people are welcomed with open arms and loved unconditionally - having that safe place of belonging is transformational. It’s coming back to all of these basic fundamentals of what it is to be a pure, beautiful, messy human being. That’s what we're doing with WILD. Get involved with walking groups - we are restarting our WILD Walks soon. Check out our videos, listen to the stories we tell and create space to explore yours. There are many different ways to get involved and if you can't find something, drop us a message and we'll figure something out!

Tanith: You have already extended the Spend More Time In The WILD brand to include a range of products and have a podcast, what’s next for you on your journey?

Abbie: Something that excites and terrifies me all at once because WILD is going very quickly. The ultimate goal is to create a physical space on the ground where people can find safety and support; where we can help people to retrain and rebuild their lives through meaningful connections with nature and people. When I have been in the depths of my mental health this is what I've yearned for,. so I want to create this space in real life for others. Right now we're working on a huge project called ‘Abbie Bikes Britain’. I will be cycling 2000 miles from John O’Groats to Land's End in 50 days. Rather than the conventional route I'm going to zigzag across the country to each of the UK’s National Parks, hike to the highest point and then get back on the bike to keep cycling. We’re doing school talks along the way and shooting a documentary series to raise awareness about the access to green spaces and why we need to protect them for mental health and the environment. Stewardship is something that is lacking within a lot of communities and we want to remind people of the significance of their existence and how much they are needed!

If people want to get involved they can join a walk, jump on their bike, or head online and follow our progress. We are looking for partners and sponsors, and this this is a community funded project, so if anyone can spare a penny of two, this would be a huge help. This is the biggest thing by far that we've undertaken within WILD. It is so exciting and we really believe we can inspire meaningful conversations and initiate lasting change across the country, and indeed, the world, since our message is transferable no matter where you live. ∎

Support Abbie on her mission:

Follow her on Instagram: @abbiebarneswild TANITH HARDING

Director of International Development, The Legacy Project, RoundTable Global Tanith is leading change management through commitment to the RoundTable Global Three Global Goals of: Educational Reform, Environmental Rejuvenation & Empowerment for All. She delivers innovative and transformational leadership and development programmes in over 30 different countries and is also lead on the international development of philanthropic programmes and projects. This includes working with a growing team of extraordinary Global Change Ambassadors and putting together the Global Youth Awards which celebrate the amazing things our young people are doing to change the world.