Childrens’ outdoors education
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