Daisy Chain has become an official provider of a prestigious national outdoor award.
The charity has been awarded over £200,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Youth Investment Fund to deliver more youth activities for young people affected by autism.
To structure the outdoor activities, including the new Forest School, and to record achievement, Daisy Chain is now a proud provider of the John Muir Award with trained staff to deliver the award with the support of the John Muir Trust.
The John Muir award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It encourages people of all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy and care for nature and the natural environment.
To achieve the award the young person must:
- Discover a wild place – it can be a park, beach, river, school grounds or woods
- Explore it – find out more about it and increase awareness of the natural environment
- Do something to conserve it – undertake some practical action to care for it
- Share those experiences – let others know what has been learned and achieved.
For students with an autism spectrum disorder, the John Muir Award offers the opportunity to learn everyday skills for life through a structured scheme which is also adaptable to the needs of the young person. It helps foster resilience, confidence, independence and creative learning.
It is particularly beneficial as people with ASD can struggle to engage socially causing them to feel left out or feeling anxious. This Award allows them to explore themselves in a supportive environment which allows them to learn in the way they feel comfortable with.
Jack Brown Johnson is the first Daisy Chain student to take part in the John Muir Award scheme. The 12 year old said:
‘Doing the John Muir Award has really helped me to learn more skills in the forest, as when I finish school I would really like to work outdoors and I think doing this award will help towards this. My favourite part of doing the John Muir was exploring the forest by going on walks, shelter building and learning different knots, I would really like to go onto the next award as it means I get to be outdoors and learn more.’
Johnathon Pickard, project development manager, said: “We wanted to use the Youth Investment Fund money to develop a love of the natural environment for our young people, many of whom don’t get to experience open air activities. Our provision allows young people with autism to get involved in outdoor activities with the specialist support they need in place.
‘The scheme links in with our strategic priorities to develop a more comprehensive outdoor education programme, including sporting activities. Being a provider of the John Muir Award means we can offer our young people something to work towards, a goal for them to aspire to and a sense of achievement. It also demonstrates their ability to work and contributes to their employability skills.’