The Trash Mob

The Trash Mob tells the story of a group of young people that changed their worlds through mountain biking & nature connection.
Billy - Just one star of the TrashMob Academy has gone from hating being outside to loving mountain biking with his pals!



OpenWide Agency



Running time

13 minutes

Country / Nationality

United Kingdom

The TrashMob Academy is Trash Free Trails’ (TFT) youth engagement project offering young people up to age 13 the opportunity to develop their nature connection, attitudes to litter and attitudes to the environment in an effort to improve their self-esteem, confidence and overall well being, with outdoor physical activity as the catalyst for change. This film, The Trash Mob, tells the story of the first young people to be presented with those opportunities, and to develop themselves physically, psychologically and socially. Borne out of a want and need to (re) connect people with nature, TFT’s Education Team consisting of Rich Breeden - MSc Psychology of Mental Health & TFT Projects Coordinator, Ellie Ewart - Legend & creator of Plastic Free Schools and Jo Shwe - Chairlady of the Yorkshire Trail Collective and Nurture Lead at the Evolve Academy developed 6 classroom sessions - focusing on nature connection, the environment, “litter” and resilience building.along with 6 physical activity sessions to be delivered by Harry Wood of The Right Track Outdoors at Leeds Urban Bike Park. At each of these outdoor activity sessions, and wherever appropriate during classroom hours, students also undertake a trail clean. Taking action to tackle Single Use Pollution, whilst learning about its history and effects on the environment provides a tangible sense of purpose and success (a bucket full of bottles from a place they’ve just had loads of fun in) for people who often don’t experience much of either. We’ve been able to demonstrate that this new found purpose, success and passion, coupled with a desire to learn about nature, ride bikes and have fun with peers can result in significant behavioural improvements, improved social skills, and improved capacity for learning in curriculum based sessions. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, these young people have never had the chance to do these things. This was the first time they felt as if it wasn't just them, that there is more to the world than their troubled upbringing to date. Being able to present those that need it the most with an opportunity to feel as if they belong, as if they are part of something that is bigger than themselves is something Trash Free Trails couldn’t be more proud of... Upon "graduation", participants receive professionally produced photos and a load of goodies from our partners Cotic and Hope, as well as a gore tex jacket from Lead Partners, Sprayway. You’ve got to imagine that whilst this kind of thing might be normal for the down clad, espresso drinking clientele we have come to know and love, for these young people it has been a life changing experience. The young people we piloted the project with have found that traditional, mainstream education hasn't worked out for them. We've been able to show that with the right people around them, a different approach to education and access to opportunities, these young people that are often overlooked as "hard to reach", "disadvantaged", even "toe rags" (insert profanity here) are able to apply themselves, develop themselves, discover new opportunities and develop a passion they never knew they had. We are yet to try the programme with students in mainstream education, but it's our firm belief not only that these kinds of opportunities should be available to all. regardless of income, location or status, but also that the programme content is suitable and adaptable for any age group. “We might not have changed the world, but we have changed their world” (Jo Shwe)

Sustainability Notes

Trash Free Trails mission is to remove 75% of Single Use Pollution by 2025, and (re) connect people with nature through Purposeful Adventures. This film tells the story of that mission, in its absolute purest form. We have been able to demonstrate, through this film and the project as a whole that instilling a sense of connection to nature amongst young people can promote environmental stewardship. Furthermore, this sense of nature connection was developed through the beautifully simple act of removing Single Use Pollution from a place these young people had come to know and love.

With regards to the production of the film itself, the team considered their carbon footprint using public transport, bikes or on foot where possible, and only travelled in one vehicle when such a means of transport was necessary. OpenWide Agency strive to work with projects and organisations that address sustainability.

As always with Trash Free Trails, the simple call to action is always to protect your trails and your wild places.