A YOUTH exchange programme between Argyll and Bute and Germany has proved such a success, it is to continue.
Young people from Bute and Oban will travel to Bavaria next year to spend a week with a group of German teenagers.
It follows a revival of youth exchanges between Argyll and Bute and Amberg-Sulzbach, which are twinned.
Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “In 2016, when a group of local youngsters visited Germany on the first leg of an exchange, it was the first time in 20 years such a visit had taken place.
“It went brilliantly and when we hosted the return visit to Rothesay and Oban at Easter this year, it became clear that everyone involved wanted it to become a fixture.
“I’m delighted that’s been confirmed and a trip to Bavaria is in the offing for 2018. Our young people have been the perfect ambassadors for Argyll and Bute and I know they will be again.
“That view is shared by our friends in Germany who are thrilled the exchange has been re-established and everyone is getting so much out of it.
“Congratulations to everyone who’s worked hard to get this exchange partnership off the ground and make it the real success story that it is.”
Young people from both countries have stayed in touch and two young women from Argyll and Bute have already travelled to stay with friends they met through the exchange.
The group is also working towards a bronze or silver Youth Achievement Award, an SQA accredited award from Youth Scotland, for their involvement in the exchange.
Following this year’s visit the Rothesay young people were also invited to do a presentation to Rothesay Rotary Club, which helped fund the exchange.
Among the activities the hosts and their visitors took part in in April included a mini Highland Games, ceilidh with musicians from Argyll Ceilidh Trust, gorge walking and the chance to try bagpipes and drums courtesy of Rothesay and District Pipe Band.
Theme of the exchange was health and wellbeing and everyone completed and compared health diaries to see if there were any differences in attitudes to diet, exercise and mental and physical health.
Staff from Argyll and Bute Council’s Youth Services team organises and supports the exchange project.
Both the Rothesay and Oban groups were full of praise for the programme.
Jennifer Murray said: “It was interesting to see the differences between Scotland and Germany in the health and wellbeing survey results.
“I really enjoyed the gorge walk but the highlight was being able to show the Germans around Bute and my home town of Rothesay.”
Fellow participant, Gene Palmer of Oban, said: “On both the German and Scottish legs of the exchange we all learned a lot more about the health and wellbeing topic at hand.
“We learned the difference in culture and various vocabulary that created a strong bond between the two groups, who will stay in contact online.”
Funding for the project came from Argyll and Bute Council, Argyll and Bute Trust, Foundation Scotland, Argyll and Bute and Wellbeing Network, Bute Drugs and Alcohol Forum, Bute Common Good Fund, For Bute and Rothesay Rotary Club. In-kind support was provided by Historic Scotland and Mount Stuart Educational Trust.