Youth work grant helps fund Mexican adventure

A Children’s and Youth Work (CYW) grant has helped a teenager participate on an adventure in Mexico.

Maya Withall, aged 17, is a member of the URC Youth Exec representing Wessex Synod, and applied to CYW’s Carmichael Montgomery Fund for an individual grant totalling £500.

The money helped fund Maya’s trip to the Mexican rainforest to aid her education in animal conservation.

When Maya learned she would be receiving the grant, she said: “I cannot fully express how I feel. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this opportunity.”

The first week of the two-week trip in July, took place at the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. Located at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula, it is the largest forest reserve in Mexico.

Along with 20 other young people, Maya was involved with many activities which looked at the habitat and the wildlife of the reserve. The activities included, studying bats, spotting reptiles, identifying mammal tracks; catching butterflies and birds and recording data before releasing them back to the wild and researching the areas where spider monkeys are located.

During the second week, spent at Akumal Bay, Maya undertook a reef ecology course which saw her looking at the turtles and studying tumours many carry on their backs, some of which result from the stress of humans touching them. Operation Wallacea – a network of academics from European and North American universities, who design and implement biodiversity and conservation management research expeditions – is helping to treat the turtles and put solutions in place to reduce this stressful consequence.

Describing the trip Maya said: “I want to express just how incredibly thankful I am for the support from the URC. This trip has been an absolute dream come true, and I can genuinely say it’s one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

“Without the URC’s generous assistance, It would have been harder to cover the full cost of the trip. This support has not only made this journey possible but has also enriched my life in many ways, I will carry the memories and lessons from this trip with me forever.”

There is a range of funding and grant opportunities available from the URC, including individual, group and holiday club grants from the Children’s and Youth Work department. Learn more about the URC’s funding opportunities.