Wildlife Trust gets grant for schools

Seeds of imagination planted with Forest Schools funding.

Children’s lives in Small Heath are set to be transformed as a project which offers regular access to nature is given the go-ahead – thanks to a funding boost from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Children, some of whom have never had the chance to explore wild spaces – will experience the natural world through a range of activities at The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country’s EcoPark environment centre. The £65,000 funding will pay for the provision of Forest School activities which provide fun, engaging opportunities to develop child and parent confidence and enjoyment, while spending time outside in nature. This is one of three projects being funded, along with others in Leicester and Manchester and there will be family events at EcoPark to launch the project during the February half-term holiday.

Nick Baker, Vice President of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The Wildlife Trusts are all about inspiring people, young and old alike, to engage and form personal connections with nature. However, there is always more we can do and thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery we are now able to reach more young people in some of our largest urban areas through our Forest Schools programme. I can’t think of many better ways to change the future than by helping children see all the fun to be had in nature and, at the same time, gain valuable experiences and skills as well as a greater understanding and appreciation of the real and natural world.”

Georgia Stokes, Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, added: “This is a great boost for children living in an area where wild play often does not feature as part of their daily lives. We do wonderful work with a few schools at EcoPark already, but we want to ensure that many more children benefit from this excellent resource, so we’re very grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for funding this exciting project.

“We want every child in Birmingham and across the Black Country to have an outdoor educational experience not just because they are the wildlife guardians of the future but because there are so many benefits to them as individuals. Spending time exploring in a natural environment can help to build confidence and self-esteem, while contributing to improved health and well-being. EcoPark is in a very urban area with lots of terraced streets and limited green space for children to explore so we are really excited to be able to include more children and their families in our work there.”

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We are delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting these innovative and exciting projects. This funding will help to reveal the wonders of the natural environment to young children, some of whom may never have had an opportunity to discover and explore nature on their doorstep.”

Developed from the Scandinavian model of learning through play outdoors, Forest Schools provide of a programme of visits over a number of weeks. These give children a chance to build relationships with the environment, their leaders and classmates and have ongoing opportunities to get to know wildlife. The leaders are trained to watch the children closely, appreciate different learning styles and personalities, and provide the right support for the individuals they care for.