Being able to connect to nature, community, to be curious, play, learn & to take risks in a safe and supportive environment can be invaluable to young children. Helping to really develop their practical, emotional and social skill, TIDE Forest school has been running sessions for girls aged 6-11 since 2019.
Naomi Hannam explains a bit about the impact it brings.
“Through fun & creative activities it is our aim to build self-esteem, independence, emotional resilience, mental health & a sense of connection & belonging in nature. TIDE sessions will be a space for girls to find their voice in a non-judgmental, non-directive and inclusive space which is youth led, holistic and experiential."
This summer they were looking to bring in an additional forest school leader to support the sessions, having seen a growing number of girls accessing the project including five Syrian refugees.
Covid-19 restrictions has seen a reduction of group sizes to allow for social distancing as well as meeting the increased emotional needs, so having an extra forest school leader enabled them to support all the young people integrate as a group. Working with a diverse group of young people it was essential to be able to maintain this support over a continuous period of time and this was particularly supportive for the refugee families.
“We have been working with 5 Syrian refugee girls aged 6-11. It is a very positive experience for them to meet together as well as integrate with the wider community. It is helping them to improve their English and space to process the complex emotions of arriving in a new country. These young people do not have easy access to nature so it is allowing them to build community, get outside in new ways and have access to adult mentoring over a 2 year period. While the girls are at forest school the mums also meet together. This space from some of their children provides them with important social time as they all live in separate towns in Cornwall with poor public transport links.”
With school residential trips and other crucial outdoor learning facing incredibly testing times, it continues to be vitally important to be able to provide outdoor experiences for personal development, education and both physical and mental health, not to mention instilling a life-long love and respect for our natural world. It was wonderful to hear back from Naomi that the Alpkit Foundation had been able to help out in supporting some of these forest school sessions.