North East Connected

Schools urged to go on wild adventures to boost the mental health of pupils

A WILDLIFE charity is inviting North-East schools to embark on outdoor adventures as a way of boosting mental health.

Durham Wildlife Trust is highlighting the benefits of its “Adventure Schools” visits to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which has nature as its theme for 2021.

Research shows that children who spend time connecting with nature during school time have more confidence and better relationships with teachers and friends.

And Durham Wildlife Trust director, Jim Cokill, added: “There is so much evidence that spending time with nature is great for mental health, and the challenges of the pandemic have underlined just how important it is to be out in the fresh air.

“We are blessed with some wonderful nature reserves in County Durham, with fantastic educational facilities, and an expert team ready to deliver fascinating programmes designed to enrich learning in line with the national curriculum.”

The Adventure Schools programme includes a wild day out at either the butterfly grasslands of Rainton Meadows Nature Reserve at Houghton-le-Spring, or the woodlands of Low Barns Nature Reserve at Bishop Auckland.

Alternatively, schools can choose a coastal location, or an outreach visit to the wild areas of their own grounds, with activities delivered by an experienced education team.

Activities, which are more Covid-secure because they are outdoors, include pond dipping, bug hunting, guided walks, animal and plant identification.

Visits also include a lunch break with access to on site facilities. At Rainton Meadow, children can use the wild play area, and classrooms are available at each site as well as a café and gift shop.

An online education pack, with resources and activity ideas, is also provided, and participating schools receive a certificate commemorating the adventures they have undertaken.

A half day visit for a maximum of 30 children costs £100 and a full day is £200. Outreach visits to schools are the same price, and there is a 10 per cent discount on second visits during the same academic year.

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