The Heritage Heroes Awards and YAC
The Heritage Heroes Awards is a scheme created by Archaeology Scotland to encourage anyone to engage with Scotland’s heritage. The awards can be completed in groups and are free to participate in. Awards can be achieved in a number of ways, through classroom activities or outdoor learning and allows participants to develop new skills. The Fife and Edinburgh YAC branches in Scotland have participated in the Heritage Heroes Awards with their members achieving a number of different awards.
We spoke to Mark Seaborne, leader of the Fife YAC branch about his group’s Heritage Heroes project, the Dunfermline Abbey Graveyard Project.
Hi Mark, why did you decide to incorporate the Heritage Heroes Awards into your group?
“I’d already suggested some kind of heritage-focused award scheme, so when Archaeology Scotland started work on Heritage Heroes I was lucky enough to get involved at the beginning. I see a need for closer relationships between heritage groups and developmental opportunities for young people. Heritage Heroes and other youth award schemes, such as the Dynamic Youth Awards and the John Muir Awards provide a useful meeting point. I see Heritage Heroes as a fantastic way of recording and celebrating members’ achievements and it’s a boost to their self-confidence.”
How did you encourage your members and their parents to want to take part in the awards?
“Drawing members into planning and decision-making helped, along with the setting of targets for activities tried, skills gained, and amount of time spent. YAC members seem to be a pretty self-motivating bunch, so encouragement was no problem.”
What difficulties did you encounter during the project?
“None relating to Heritage Heroes itself. We have had excellent support from Archaeology Scotland, the planning and recording is designed to be flexible and as light as possible. Our club is very much focused on long- term excavation projects which provide an ideal environment.”
How did you organise the project?
“We have been incredibly lucky. We were invited to participate in the graveyard dig by a local heritage group even before our YAC was formed. We now manage the graveyard dig and have been asked to take on other projects locally, in fact we have more projects than our YAC can handle on its own. So, we have further developed outreach to schools and other youth groups, with whom we also use Heritage Heroes. Many YAC members come from school and other groups with whom we work.”
What feedback did you receive from members and their parents?
“Really positive. Both parents and members appreciate the recognition and have used Heritage Heroes as a spur to talk about archaeology in school, for example. Members tend to be motivated to attend more often to get their hours up and to try out activities that they need to try to meet the requirements. Heritage Heroes has been very empowering.”
What advice would you give to any YAC branches wanting to do a Heritage Heroes Award project?
“Follow the planning guidelines and ask for advice when needed. We found that the documentation required is very light touch, not going far beyond normal YAC planning and recording requirements. Trust members to co-design. Don’t forget sharing and dissemination aspects of a project and recognise fairly informal approaches (talking parents or non-YAC siblings through a completed activity, or show-and-tell at school for example). Effective sharing really boosts feelings of achievement.”
What positive changes have come out of completing the project?
“Well, the project is ongoing. We leaders are encouraged to let members provide direction. We have mechanisms for recording and acknowledging individual milestones over the course of years of YAC experience gained, both for members and young leaders.”
Thank you to Mark for talking to us about the advantages of the Hetiage Heroes Awards. If you want to find out more about the awards click here.
Interviewed by Charlotte Selby.