The Land Trust has launched a new education strategy, as the green space management charity looks to inspire people of all ages to spend more time outside and enjoy all the benefits that spending time in well managed green space has to offer.
Working in partnerships with local schools and nurseries and providing volunteering opportunities, through projects such as our Green Angels programme, the Land Trust is aiming to increase the amount of time spent by young people outdoors, and give them the opportunity to learn new skills, enhance their future prospects and make a difference in their community.
The time currently spent outdoors by children is worrying low and it was these statistics, combined with a crisis in childhood obesity and mental health, that encouraged the Land Trust to act, with director of portfolio management, Alan Carter, explaining: “The Land Trust has been delivering educational activities on our sites since its inception but this strategy is about developing that offer further and making a real difference in the communities who live and work close to our sites.
“The UK Government wishes to use and develop the natural environment to improve the education and lives of all children, with a particular focus on those from deprived communities.
“This desire is set against a backdrop of rising childhood obesity levels, decreasing childhood mental health and decreasing levels of interaction of children and young people in the natural environment. In fact it is reported that three quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates, while a fifth of children do not play outside at all on an average day.
“These findings are completely unacceptable and if they are allowed to remain unchanged we risk generations of people missing out on enjoying time outside and the physical and mental benefits that brings. With over 60 sites across the country we recognise that we are in a unique position to make a real difference and our refreshed education strategy is the first step in that process.”
Over the next three years the Land Trust will have a strategic focus on developing relationships with schools and nurseries within walking distance of our spaces.
The charity is investing in six new outdoor learning areas across their sites at Wellesley Woodlands, Bewsey, Kiverton, Old Hall, Silverdale and Hassall Green, while also training rangers and teachers as forest school practitioners, to enhance the variety of activity on our sites.
The Land Trust is also working with an external body, Nature-Nurture, to produce an education pack for use by local schools near our site at Davey Down. This will then be developed to provide some more generic learning packs to be made available to schools across the country.
There is already a huge amount of educational activities going on at Land Trust sites across the country, with the number of school visits rising from 3,500 to 7,500 over the last five years.
Elba Park is a site playing a lead role in this work and was awarded Land Trust Educational site of the year after delivering activities to nearly 1,000 school children over the last 12 months.
Based in Sunderland the team at Elba have built excellent working relationships with local schools which has seen children enjoying activities such as geocaching, pond dipping, meadow sweeps, crafts, surveys and identification, bulb and tree planting, and heritage activities.
Students from Portland Academy, a school for young people with special educational needs and disability, attend weekly sessions at the site with post-16 students undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh award.
Carter continued: “Our site at Elba Park is a great example of a site that has really embedded itself into the local community and what they have achieved is a real testament to the hard work that has been put into building relationships with schools in the local area.
“If we can replicate the success of Elba Park across a number of our sites then we can make a huge impact and effect real change in so many people’s lives.”
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