Through her work as a Trainee Learning Officer at The Royal Parks, Ade, now 26, is providing environmental education to schoolchildren across London. New to Nature has fostered her enthusiasm for community engagement, with the ultimate goal of breaking down barriers and developing equal opportunities for young people to access nature’s green spaces.
Photo of Ade Onamade

Ade was at university studying a degree in Engineering when the effects of Covid-19 and experiences of institutional discrimination impacted her mental health. As a result, Ade paused her studies, and found this difficult time spent in green spaces created a deeper recognition of nature’s value. She learnt just how beneficial it was for mental wellbeing, particularly in overcoming eco-anxiety.

Her role at The Royal Parks has been both fulfilling and informative: Ade is involved in the delivery of school sessions and family learning focused on the habitats, wildlife, and heritage of the eight Royal Parks. These programmes allow young people to face the future with greater confidence and offer meaningful lifelong education.

Having worked and volunteered for over five years with grassroot organisations, Ade’s New to Nature traineeship has given her the opportunity to develop the tools to support communities, as well as teach others about the environmental crisis and the value of urban green space.

Environmental education remains in her future, as Ade plans to use the transferrable skills learnt at The Royal Parks to pursue a career in community engagement for the nature sector as a change-agent for community groups working around nature recovery and heritage. During her placement, Ade is being encouraged to work towards these plans by her Groundwork employment coach, setting goals within and beyond.

Ade hopes to resume her studies alongside working – adapting her Engineering degree to have an environmental focus, as she sets her sights on making a difference!

Ade said:

“I ultimately applied because, as a young person, it has been hard to find paid job opportunities in the nature heritage sector, which can have various barriers to accessing it.

“Since 2017, I have been campaigning over the intersections between racism and environmental issues. Communicating local issues in a clear, solutions-focused way that would encourage participation among those most underrepresented in environmental spaces, became my focus.

“I was working with children and young people to support supplementary education in both formal and informal settings, and through community-led environmental projects. Facilitating Food Poverty workshops in Brixton highlighted the need to provide knowledge, often not provided in conventional schooling, to young people to empower them to enact local change.

“As a passionate young woman of Afrikan-heritage, I will be using my lived mental health experience and my involvement with delivering workshops and community activities.

“I have already used some of the skills learnt in this placement to support my previous volunteering work and have designed and delivered youth sessions for teenagers in Lewisham’s most deprived ward, Bellingham.

I aim to develop my professional career in environmental education, with a focus on intersectionality and improving access to public green spaces through supporting the education and community engagement work that The Royal Parks does so well.

New to Nature is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the King’s Coronation, delivered through a partnership of Groundwork, The Prince’s Trust, Disability Rights UK, Mission Diverse and the Youth Environmental Service.

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