Monday motivation has taken on a new meaning for residents in Ynysybwl, with a recently-launched walking group getting the week off to the best possible start.
Local people and friends from surrounding communities are lacing up their boots and exploring new paths on their doorstep, thanks to a new ‘green’ prescribing initiative aimed at improving wellbeing and reducing anxiety.
The walking group, the Ynysybwl Strollers, has been set up under Lean, Green and Healthy, a scheme launched by the Ynysybwl Regeneration Partnership and Taff Ely Primary Care Cluster and funded by Natural Resources Wales. Lean, Green and Healthy works in partnership with many community groups and has the ongoing support of the cluster.
The weekly sessions, held on Monday mornings, encourage people to be active at their own pace and make new friends, as well as to discover new routes and quiet corners in the beautiful landscape around Ynysybwl. The circular walks began in January and are already drawing a loyal following, with walkers going at a gentle pace to cater for all abilities.
There is also a Thursday group called the Mini Strollers, parents and carers with pushchairs who chat to each other as they stroll along accessible routes. The group is attracting more members weekly and providing vital social support in the fresh air for new mums and dads.
YRP community connector Dave Harris said: “Our aim is to start activities that people want to do and get people off the sofa. We hear a lot about Couch to 5K but this is about getting people off the sofa in the first place and getting them into the fresh air. I go into the local GP surgeries for two hours each week to tell patients about the group, and the village has been very receptive to the idea.
“We also run woodland activities every other Monday at Daerwonno Outdoor Activity Centre, with Jill and Wynford Price. Activities include trail leading, orienteering, team challenges and team building. Jill and Wynford and have lots of knowledge about the history of the area, so it’s great to be working in partnership with them.”
Group member Elizabeth, who lives in Ynysybwl, said: “I used to do walking football but I hurt my leg. Walking is so good for me. It’s something I’ve always done and I used to walk a lot on my own, but now I like the company. It can be a long week when you’re on your own and it’s good to get out and make friends.”
Dave’s role is funded by Natural Resources Wales, while Lean, Green and Healthy has also had support from local walking groups, whose members have helped devise the routes.
Dave added: “Some of the members tell us that, if it wasn’t for the group, they would never do anything. One lady, who has been seeing her GP since September for anxiety, told me that walking gives her the opportunity to talk to someone other than a professional, and that it’s already making her feel more positive, so the group really is benefiting the community.”
The aim of YRP is to raise the quality of life for residents across Taff Ely and the Cynon Valley, create opportunities for young people and help develop countryside access and tourism. If you’d like to find out more about the walking groups or other community initiatives, pop into the office at 20 Windsor Place or phone 01443 791425.
You can also find out more about other services from a range of health professionals by visiting the Taff Ely Cluster website.