Giving children the opportunity to experience and learn about nature from an early age can bring many benefits. So removing barriers to outdoor education that provides immersive experiences can really help growth in physical, emotional, social and cognitive skills. Branches Out is a forest school CIC in Bristol and committed to providing quality outdoor learning experiences for people from all backgrounds. As part of this they provide free after school clubs for disadvantaged children from the local area who are struggling with mental health.
Over the summer Kate applied for some support from the Alpkit Foundation to help run a Forest School out of school club and she recently got back in touch to let us know how things had gone. "We really wanted to be able to provide free forest school for 11 children aged 5-10, for them to take part in a number of activities. It's really important for us to support them in taking risks, exploring environments and empower them by pushing their comfort zone."
We were delighted to be able to support them with a £200 award and it was wonderful to hear that they'd been able to use it so positively. "We got the kids tree climbing, swing making, fire lighting, yoga, den building, whittling and more. We were able to pay for the premises hire and some of the staff wages using the award, meaning that we could make this totally free for all the children. We provided them with snacks and drinks free of charge too. We tracked their happiness and confidence throughout and are pleased to say that all of them reported improvements in these areas as well as calling the day "fantastic" and "amazing"
We are still reeling from how much fun we had and how special it felt to be there with them. For a lot of the children, this was the one thing they had to look forward to and it really helped to lift their spirits. One child suffering with life changing anxiety even climbed a tree, lit the fire and roasted marshmallows. It was so rewarding to see him smile after hanging his head all morning. Some of them arrived without having had breakfast and commented that this was the only food they would have today. It was honestly so needed for them and so important for local children living in one of the most deprived areas of the UK. Thank you once again for your generosity, we couldn't have done it without you."