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Brrrrrrr-rilliant adventures in nature

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Posted: Thursday 6th December 2018 by WildBlog

(c) Helena Dolby

By Lucy Hellier, Learning Development Manager, Avon Wildlife Trust

I think the weather always looks worse when you’re looking at it through the window. The grey dreary sky, the rain dripping down the glass, a plastic bag blowing across the road. Brave a trip to a park, a local nature reserve or further afield onto the hills of the Mendips or the forests of the Wye Valley, and suddenly the weather doesn’t seem so bad.

‘It’s raining leaves!’ My group of 11 year olds look up and see a shower of yellow, orange, brown and red leaves, dislodged from the trees above them by a sudden gust of wind, gently falling, accompanied by fat droplets of water. This is a new experience for them. They are on a school visit to Feed Bristol (our urban nature and community food growing site), and are holding pots full of slugs and snails, searched for under soggy logs. These maligned creatures have gained the respect of their human captors through their slime trails, their surprising speed, and their 400 million year evolutionary journey. One child has named his slug ‘Boris’ and wants to take him home to meet his family. He tells me ‘this is the best school trip ever’.

In my experience, children love being outside in all weathers. The teachers we work with are creative and tireless in giving their pupils amazing outdoor experiences. Learning and playing outside regularly is so important for children’s physical and mental health. Children who spend more time outside are less likely to become short sighted, are physically healthier, more confident and resilient, and can manage stress better. With recent headlines talking about an ‘epidemic’ of poor mental health in children, the ethical and economic argument for letting children learn and play outside is overwhelming.

At Avon Wildlife Trust we work with schools, children’s centres, families and community groups to bring nature into young people’s lives. We run nature play sessions for toddlers, lead school visits and help support school nature clubs, and run practical conservation tasks with young people. Back at a wet and windy Feed Bristol, the children are getting back on the coach, with glowing faces and dirty hands. I release ‘Boris’ back into the undergrowth, and hope that the families of these kids see the joy they get from being in nature, and encourage and support them to make nature an everyday part of their childhood.

Our work with schools and families wouldn't be possible without players of People's Postcode Lottery. Thanks to them, we have been able to connect, engage and inspire the next generation of nature lovers in our region, so that they can be custodians of the natural world around them at a time when it needs it most. Time spent in nature also gives children and families the space and freedom to explore their surroundings with one another and experience a better sense of wellbeing. This reciprocal relationship between people and nature is an important thing to share with children from a young age and we look forward to next year and all that we can achieve thanks to this support. 

To find out more about our work with schools and families, visit avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/learning, email learning@avonwildlifetrust.org.uk or call 0117 917 7270.

Photo Credits: children exploring woodland (c) Helena Dolby; slug (c) Katrina Martin/2020Vision; boy with sycamore leaf (c) David Tipling/2020Vision. 
 

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