Bear Grylls: I’d make outdoor classes and community service compulsory

"Show me a group in this country that doesn't think it's a good idea for 16-year-olds to do some form of community service"

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Bear Grylls is a big believer in the power of community spirit. That’s why TV’s most famous survival specialist believes it’s time 16-year-olds across the nation rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in.

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“Show me a group in this country that doesn’t think it’s a good idea for 16-year-olds to do some form of community service”, he says in the latest edition of Radio Times.

“For me, it’s learning about people from different backgrounds, whether it’s seeing how rubbish is collected or how nurses are trained. That way you learn about contributing to the community” Grylls argues.

Compulsory community service is just one of several ideas in his “manifesto for children”. Grylls thinks getting fit and outdoor education should also be priorities. “Having outdoor adventures builds a pride and confidence that you wouldn’t get in the classroom” he says. “Outdoor classes should be part of the curriculum.”

Not that he plans to make his manifesto a political one and follow in the footsteps of his father, Tory MP Sir Michael Grylls. His son believes that television holds more power to influence than 10 Downing Street, when it comes to young people at least.

“There is a different power now and in may ways it’s harder for politicians compared with celebrities to win the respect of young people,” he says. “It is easier through my job because young people dig the outdoors.”

He’ll be spending plenty of time outdoors in his new ITV reality show Bear Grylls: Mission Survive, which puts 12 celebrities (including actors and cousins Emilia Fox and Laurence Fox, double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, TV presenter and singer Jamelia, and former England International rugby player Mike Tindall) to the test in the Costa Rican jungle.

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Read the full interview with Bear Grylls in this week’s Radio Times magazine, on sale from Tuesday 10 February