A NEW programme aims to inspire and connect young people with the nature and landscapes surrounding them in the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark.

The North Pennines AONB Partnership has received a £249,970 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, funded by the lottery players, for a new project to inspire children and young people about the world around them, connect them with nature and help improve their wellbeing.

The Expanding Horizons project will work with schools in selected areas that face particular challenges, to get the students out and about in the stunning landscapes of the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Global Geopark, interacting with it, learning from it and enjoying it.

There will be opportunities to connect with schools in other UNESCO Global Geoparks and share their special places.

It will also involve a new programme of activities for pre-school children and their families and carers.

The project also aims to make key locations more accessible to a wider range of people through developing high quality online information to help people visit with confidence, particularly young people with autism and their families.

Naomi Foster, geology projects officer, said: “We are excited to be building on our work with children and young people and we believe it’s important to be focusing on wellbeing at this time and the benefits that a connection to nature can bring.

“We’re also very much looking forward to working with organisations such as the North East Autism Society and Children North East and of course the young people themselves to help us develop and get the most from this project.”

School visits will start after the spring half term and the pre-school group begins at the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Bowlees Visitor Centre in April.

For more information about events and activities visit the website at northpennines.org.uk