Childrens’ out­doors education

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

CU­RI­OUS dog walk­ers were among the first to see the new out­door learn­ing area we’ve put in place on Broad­hurst Clough, by the coun­cil’s ‘sus­tain­able drainage sys­tem’ ponds in Mos­ton.

The crisp cold Fe­bru­ary morn­ing be­gan with Nick, our wildlife film-maker, set­ting up time-lapse cam­eras to cap­ture the trans­for­ma­tion.

We mar­shalled the Manch­ester city coun­cil wood­chip de­liv­ery and tested the can-sur­vive­be­ing-dropped-out-of-anair­plane re­silience of Nick’s GoPro cam­era by dump­ing a cou­ple of tons of wood­chip on it.

This sight and the stack of eight-foot wooden posts was a great way to get con­ver­sa­tions started with the many peo­ple who en­joy Broad­hurst Clough.

Last year, we worked with four lo­cal pri­mary schools, get­ting kids muddy and en­gaged with na­ture through For­est Schools both on the school grounds and on our Mos­ton Fair­way na­ture re­serve. That went so well we won fund­ing for an­other year and have taken the con­cept fur­ther to get out into the pub­lic realm and work on two of Manch­ester’s best-loved com­mu­nity green spa­ces. That’s an­other four schools get­ting in­volved – St Dun­stan’s and Lily Lane on Broad­hurst Clough, Christ the King and St Wil­li­brord’s on Clay­ton Vale.

At Clay­ton Vale, the kids are now ex­plor­ing the wildlife of the River Med­lock val­ley us­ing the se­cond out­door class­room we’ve cre­ated there near the Vis­i­tors’ Cen­tre.

For­est Schools have fan­tas­tic education and de­vel­op­ment ben­e­fits for chil­dren, as well as be­ing great fun. TV nat­u­ral­ist Nick Baker joined us in Mos­ton last year for pond dip­ping as part of the pro­ject and de­clared: “This is what it’s all about, open­ing up our nat­u­ral world to young en­thu­si­asm and in­spir­ing kids to love learn­ing and be­ing out­doors”.

Bring­ing kids to­gether with the wildlife where they live re­ally got things mov­ing in Mos­ton last year.

Oth­ers saw the com­mu­nity get­ting in­volved and wanted to help. Viri­dor paid for a wheel­chair-ac­ces­si­ble cir­cu­lar path on Mos­ton Fair­way to sat­isfy res­i­dents’ need for safe ac­cess and Ve­o­lia sup­port a new Wed­nes­day vol­un­teer group car­ry­ing out prac­ti­cal con­ser­va­tion. We’re look­ing for more of the same on Broad­hurst Clough and Clay­ton Vale.

Echo­ing praise across the city, Cen­tral Manch­ester MP Lucy Pow­ell en­thused: “I was re­ally pleased to see how suc­cess­ful the pro­ject has been… it’s great that the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are now able to en­gage with na­ture”.

All this is made pos­si­ble by lo­cal play­ers of Peo­ple’s Post­code Lot­tery. Mos­ton and Clay­ton are hotspots for ticket sales and this char­ity lot­tery is all about putting money back into lo­cal good causes.

Keep an eye on our Face­book and Twit­ter feeds for up­dates from the ses­sions – and in this very col­umn for sto­ries of a new kind of park life.

If the GoPro cam­era sur­vived, look out for footage of the wood­chip shower in the video sto­ries of the For­est Schools pro­ject we’ll be shar­ing af­ter Easter.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side. Text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070.

●● Pupils look­ing for wildlife at Mos­ton Fair­way

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