Children learn to love outdoors
WE’VE all been guilty of looking up at the sky, seeing that its overcast and raining and making some sort of excuse to not spend any lengthy period of time outside.
However, Lancashire Wildlife Trust is trying to break the chain for some children across Manchester, who are scared of playing outside, scared of getting their hands dirty or fearful of playing in the rain.
I was a somewhat fortunate child, having a good-sized back garden that was kept wild in many ways, bringing lots of different wildlife for me to watch and experience growing up.
However, not every child has this opportunity, and, in turn, lacks the interest, skills and experience that makes playing outside enjoyable to them.
I have been working for the trust for three months and have attended weekly forest school sessions led by incredibly creative and passionate forest school practitioners.
I’ve witnessed young boys with behavioural problems become stars at forest schools, using their already brilliant practical skills and applying them to projects at forest school.
Things like constructing dens, creating wooden mallets, making fires and toasting marshmallows.
We try to instil a respect for nature and wildlife that they will hopefully take forward into life as they develop into young teens with potentially conflicting priorities.
I’m hoping that they remember the wormery week, where we learned the difference between organic and plastic materials.
And also the hedgehog home week, where they were taught how without appropriate shelter, food and water, the species will continue to decline – and most importantly how their actions can impact wildlife.
One thing I have really enjoyed is that every single group is different, with a mosaic of characters, faces, energy and interests.
Growing up in Manchester, it is difficult to get out of the concrete jungle of the urban city centre, especially if your parents don’t have the time or the capacity to take you out into the country.
What we try to do is create forest school areas across both Manchester City Council owned parks and within school grounds to facilitate green spaces for all children.
Forest school is an opportunity of a lifetime and the research is clear that it provides a positive influence to all who receive it, whether that’s pupils with trouble at home, that need a little bit of adventure, escapism or friendship, or whether it’s a young girl who struggles answering mathematical questions in class that needs her confidence building.
Forest school provides a different learning opportunity for all children, helping to foster life resilience, risk-taking, confidence, team working and interest in nature.
The biggest thing I come away with each week is, I really wish I could have gone to forest schools when I was younger, but for me I’ve been given a second chance at primary school and now at 24, I get to go to forest school.
All of our Forest School work is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
To date, players have raised over £205m for good causes, as 30pc of the lottery is put towards charitable funds and good causes.
For more information, see our dedicated webpage www.lancswt. org.uk/forest-schools or contact Emma Ackerley at firstname.lastname@example.org. uk.
For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust. org.uk.
Schoolchildren take part in wildlife study