Iain MacAulay, Chairman of Comunn na Gàidhlig, along with the Spòrs Gàidhlig team and Shaun Roberts, Glenmore Lodge Principal.
A project is now underway to boost the delivery of outdoor activity training through the Gaelic language.
Based at Glenmore Lodge, the national outdoor activity training centre, the Spòrs Gàidhlig project will eventually see four people trained to deliver a wide range of outdoor activities to Gaelic speaking young people and other groups.
The first 12-month project, which will run until September 2018, has already seen three people employed by Spòrs Gàidhlig, who are now based at Glenmore Lodge: a project co-ordinator; and two ‘Gaelic language trainee instructors’.
The £300,000 project has been developed by Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG) and is being taken forward thanks to the LEADER programme in the Cairngorm National Park (£90,000), Comunn na Gàidhlig’s own investment (£54,000), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (£40,000), the Scottish Government (£30,000), Bòrd na Gàidhlig (£30,000), and the AMW Charitable Trust (£2,000)
Until now opportunities for GME pupils to undertake exciting and challenging outdoor and adventurous activities through the Gaelic language have been extremely limited.
Now, as the new trainee instructors gain their outdoor qualifications over the next 12 months, they will be able to provide activity sessions to Gaelic speakers and others, in a range of activities including: hill-walking, gorge-walking, canoeing and rafting, mountain biking, and bushcraft.
The project is being managed by Donald Morris, and the new trainee instructors are Calum MacLean and Euan Mackenzie. Calum, from Inverness, has worked with the BBC as a Gaelic news journalist, and has recently presented a series of short programmes on wild swimming at various locations in Scotland. Euan, from Dingwall, has a background in environmental science, and was also an international youth camp leader in Madagascar.
The second year of the project will see a further two trainee instructors employed. Depending on demand, Spòrs Gàidhlig hopes to be able to employ one or two of these instructors on a full-time basis once the initial two years of the project are completed.
Donald Morris said: “We know, from our track record at CnaG, that there is a growing demand for outdoor and adventurous activities in Gaelic. Our Sradagan camps have grown in number each year; we’ve rolled out a ‘John Muir Award’ programme across six of our development areas; we’ve established a successful ski camp onto our annual programme; and this year we ran our first cycle adventure for young people – from Barra to the Butt of Lewis.
“All of these activities motivate young Gaelic-speakers and help them use their language in a fun, social setting. We want to do more of this, but the one key limitation we have in expanding this provision further is the lack of qualified, Gaelic-speaking instructing staff, and Spòrs Gàidhlig is intended to address this.
“Our vision is to eventually have an outdoor centre of some sort, with a strong Gaelic identity, delivering activities for Gaelic schools, Gaelic learners, and others with an interest in the language and outdoors.”
CnaG chairman Ian MacAulay said: “We are very grateful to all of our funders and strategic partners for the opportunity to take this project forward, from the first developmental year, to the second 12 months of consolidation, marketing and delivery.” Iain Macaulay stays in Back, but is originally from North Uist. He was formerly Director of Social and Community Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
The key funder in the Spòrs Gàidhlig project is the LEADER 2014-20 programme in the Cairngorms National Park. Roger Clegg, Chair of the Cairngorms Local Action Group said: ‘We are pleased to be able to approve LEADER funding to support Spòrs Gàidhlig and welcome the launch of this interesting and innovative project which fits well with several of the themes in the Local Development Strategy”.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “We are very pleased to support the Spòrs Gàidhlig project which will play an important role in bringing Gaelic alive in new and exciting ways for our young people and others.”