In May 2023, a group of 30 young people from Austria, Slovakia, Serbia, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Italy participated in week-long youth exchange in beautiful Zell am See.

In this one week, they learned how to become more responsbile and sustainable hikers, visited nearby peaks such as Ronachkopf and Glocknerhaus, and participated in workshops focused on eco-friendly outdoor activities and environmental protection.

Project Hiking for Better Earth was created to introduce young Europeans to hiking and encourage them to be more physically active in order to fight current issues such as sedentary lifestyle of young people and lack of exercise in their daily life. Many people from the group were first-time hikers for who this was a new experience of completing hikes in around 2,000 m altitude.

Workshops about sustainability, green skills, eco-friendly practices and climate protection

Throughout the youth exchange, participants not only engaged in various workshops but also contributed to their design with their experience and soft skills. Every day, workshops on topics such as sustainability, green skills, eco-friendly outdoor activities, climate protection but also hiking preparation, safety in mountains and first-aid equipped participants with a set of new knowledge and skills, useful in their professional and personal lives. These activities were designed using non-formal education methods in order to create comfortable and enjoyable environement and boost the learning process. The group embarked on 2 hikes during this time, visiting nearby peaks, discovering local flora and sharing tips and best practices on how to be a responsible hikers and respect the nature.

While hiking, more experienced youngsters with the support of mountain guides shared their knowledge on navigation and orientation in nature, using modern and also more traditional tools such as compass, map and various mobile apps and tools. We encouraged the use of digital tools during our herbal hikes, when participants used the app “PlantNet” to recognise and learn about local plants and their possible use.

The Hiking for Better Earth project enabled a group of 30 young people to develop skills such as teamwork, adaptability, flexibility, leadership and management skills. They gained knowledge about sustainability and green skills, improved their physical fitness and learned what hiking preparation consists of and how to behave safely and respectfully in nature. In addition, they spent one week in the beautiful and unspoilt environment of Zell am See in Austria.

This event was co-financed by the Erasmus+ Youth programme.