An outdoor youth and community worker based in Greater Manchester, Rehna discovered a passion for outdoor activities in her teens through the Lindley Educational Trust. She now helps other young people find their own passion for the ‘great outdoors’ as the leader of the Ashton Youth Club.
Finding Our Way podcast champions diverse outdoor voices and is proudly sponsored by Berghaus.
What was your first experience of the hills?
Growing up, our version of the outdoors was just playing out till the streetlights came on. Then I knew it was time to come in because it was dinner time and I was going to get in trouble if I didn't get in. And that was it. I didn't know that people went hill walking, climbing or canoeing. I didn't know things like crags and climbing walls existed. My first ever hill walk was absolutely shocking! My boots didn't fit, I got blisters, didn't know if I was hot or cold. I just remember sheer frustration, thinking, 'my Pakistani body isn't made to climb hills. That's why I can't see anyone else like me around here! Who else would do this?!'. But after that experience something clicked in my head and my heart.
So how do you get young people interested in these activities?
The wider community is at the heart of what we do at Ashton Youth Club. We don't just work with young people, we work with their families. If I don't know the families, if I don't know parents and siblings, then it won’t work. Parents come to me speaking Urdu saying, 'Rehna, where's my daughter going? I'm nervous, I'm worried.' And I speak back to them in the mother tongue and explain, 'We're going to the Peak District, we're going climbing, she's going to have an amazing time’ and show them pictures. It builds relationships and rapport. It has to come through the community. If you can see people who look like you, from the same background, same socio-economic status, same language, who eat the same food, that role modelling and inspiration is there. Nothing happens overnight. It has taken nearly seven years, working with community members, the local mosque, the police, the local authority. It has taken a lot of work, a lot of partnership. But once it becomes embedded, you're on to a winner. People become leaders within their community.
Why do you hate the term BAME?
The word is helping to address issues and really important conversations that need to be had. So at the moment, I'm gritting my teeth and bearing it. But even within our South Asian community we have our own differences: Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indians…there are so many different people in different groups. So how can you put everyone from different minority groups in one category?! I think it's lazy.
What does walking mean to you?
⭐ Ashton Youth Club
⭐ Lindley Education Trust
⭐ Mountain Training walking skills and awards
⭐ Mountain Training climbing skills and awards
⭐ Bursaries available for mountain qualifications
Meet our guests from Season 1:
Rehna Yaseen: Free kit, ‘BAME’ and inspiring young South Asians
Euan Ryan: Making films, climbing and hidden disabilities
Bonita Norris: Everest, ethics and disordered eating
Rob Mitchell: Cake, maps, and gay, bi- & trans lads outdoors
Cherelle Harding: Urban community, reggae and rolling down hills
Stu Skinner: Deserts, jungles and mental health training
Finding Our Way is sponsored by Berghaus, and hosted by BMC walking ambassador Mary-Ann Ochota and expedition leader and equity champion Cress Allwood. Our editor is Chris Stone.
Get involved with the conversation by sharing your thoughts on the BMC Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #FindingOurWay.
Episode #1: Free kit, ‘BAME’ and inspiring young South Asians
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Finding Our Way is the new BMC podcast where our guests are as diverse as the outdoors should be.
Hosted by BMC Hillwalking Ambassador and TV Broadcaster Mary-Ann Ochota and Expedition Leader and equity champion Cress Allwood, the podcasts aims to diversify the people we normally hear talking about the outdoors, celebrate their stories and shine a light on their insights.
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