#iwill Young Naturalist Blogger
1051. Dara McAnulty
Dara McAnulty, aged 14 from County Down, created a wildlife blog to encourage other young people to support their local environment.
As an autistic teenager, Dara realised that developing a therapeutic connection with nature helped him manage his anxiety, inspiring him to engage other young people with the benefits of nature. He has been a driving force behind the ‘Grassroots Challenge’ run by ‘Ulster Wildlife’, making videos to encourage young people to participate in conservation and get outdoors. He recently worked with naturalist and Springwatch presenter Chris Packham on ‘The People’s Walk for Wildlife’ campaign, speaking to 10,000 people at Hyde Park about conservation. Dara has also completed a 30 mile walk that raised over £6,000 to tag and record threatened birds of prey, and is soon to publish a book called ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ based on his blog, which won runner-up in the BBC Wildlife Magazine Blogger Awards.
Dara has recently been selected as an #iwill Ambassador by the #iwill campaign, which seeks to make social action a part of life for all young people by 2020. The campaign’s annual #iwillWeek, this year 12-16th November, is an opportunity for the 900 cross-sector partners of the #iwill campaign to join together to celebrate the impact young people are having on communities across the UK, and to champion the voices of young people making a difference. Dara was presented with his award at the #iwillWeek event held at Kew Gardens by Lord Gardiner.
In a personal letter to Dara, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Through your award-winning ‘Young Fermanagh Naturalist’ blog, you are encouraging young people to support their local environment and learn about the importance of conservation. Your writing is raising awareness of how nature can help people cope with autism and you should feel proud of this is truly remarkable achievement.”
Charlotte Hill, CEO of ‘Step Up To Serve’, which coordinates the #iwill campaign, said:
“At the #iwill campaign we know that young people have the energy, ideas and drive to address issues in their community and to tackle many of society’s tougher challenges. We are so pleased to see the Prime Minister recognising the astounding achievements that Dara has made through his volunteering, fundraising and campaigning, and hope this inspires Dara and other young people to continue their fantastic work.”
“I am delighted and deeply honoured to receive the Points of Light award, heartfelt gratitude. I sincerely hope that it shines a beacon on how vital nature is to us all, our mental health, our wellbeing and the survival of all life. We need more young voices to speak up and take action for nature though. I will continue my work and hope that many more will follow.”
Pictured below: Dara (furthest right) with Lord Gardiner (centre) at the #iwillWeek 2018 event held at Kew Gardens, alongside fellow Points of Light winning #iwill ambassadors Amy Meek, Ella Meek, Mhairi McCann, Lucia Mee and Anna McGovern (credit: Barima Owusu Nyantekyi)