Outdoor experts at Blacks caught up with Marlon Patrice, founder of ‘We Go Outside Too’ to reveal the need for green spaces.
Following the tragic death of his son in 2020, due to knife crime, and the onset of the COVID pandemic, Marlon was compelled to turn his grief into a power for good. ‘We Go Outside Too’ is an active group making the countryside accessible, with a clear focus on empowering the Black Community to experience the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of nature.
In the year ending March 2021, there were around 41,000 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales.
Marlon says: “My connection to nature developed on a deeper level. I started to feel empowered and able to face my trauma and focus on future goals, which would also benefit the wider Black Community.” Finding deeper clarity on the value and power of green spaces compelled Marlon to share the benefits of the outdoors with the wider community.
Marlon was shocked to find that the impact on inner-city children and families ran deep, with underprivileged communities in Birmingham living up to 3 miles away from their nearest green space.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, one in eight households (12%) in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden. This rises to more than one in five households in London (21%). And in England, Black people are nearly four times as likely as White people to have no access to outdoor space at home, whether it be a private or shared garden, a patio or a balcony (37% compared with 10%).
The Need for Green Spaces
Across multiple studies, researchers have found a fascinating link between access to green space, such as fields, forests, parks and gardens, and a reduced risk of mental health problems, improved mood, and increased life satisfaction. Other benefits include reduced stress, increased physical activity, and better physical health.
The Creation of a Community
‘We Go Outside Too’ was moulded to bring “the rawness and authenticity of nature to the Black Community by aligning mental and physical well-being therapy with outdoor activities”. Marlon’s activism created a positive place that makes the countryside accessible and seeks to overcome some of the barriers faced by inner-city kids and the Black community, such as transport costs, equipment, mental health support and green space access.
Marlon and his WGOT family are driving the narrative that the outdoors is for everyone. And it has clearly worked with over 400 members currently taking part in UK hikes, camping trips and adventures together. ‘We Go Outside Too’ is supported by Merrell who seek to create awareness about the mission of the movement.
The Future of WGOT
The future looks bright as Marlon told us he wants to take the scheme international, connecting with walking groups in Africa where many of its members have roots. Their message of inclusivity, healing and demystifying the countryside has global potential; after all, every one of us could do with a little more outdoor space in our lives.
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