“I really love it here. It is so beautiful and relaxing” Year 6 pupil from Ark Kings Academy, Kings Norton.
As new Head of Learning and Skills at the Heart of England Forest I’m committed to getting children and adults spending more time among the trees.
As the Heart of England Forest grows, the benefits for wildlife are clear for all to see. But the benefits for people are just as significant. Spending time in the Forest is a perfect antidote to the bustle and noise of modern life. If you need an excuse to visit the Forest read on.
One in ten children and as many as one in four adults are reported to be suffering from mental health conditions. But the good news is the growing body of evidence that regular contact with the natural environment also has a positive impact on mental health in children and adults. Some evidence suggests that even living close to green space can make you happier.
Whether through walking, running, cycling, volunteering or play the Forest provides a range of activities to tempt people to get more active, and it is much more beautiful than the gym! Evidence suggests that there is a link between spending more time in the natural environment, improved health and reduced obesity so download a walk route and get exploring!
The Forest is a great place to meet people and develop your relationships – whether a heart-to-heart when walking the dog, or spending time playing hide and seek with your family. For schools, time and space away from the school environment can result in relationships between peers and pupils & teachers being transformed. Heart of England Forest events and guided walks are also a great way of meeting likeminded people.
Did you know that children often learn better when they are outdoors? It means they can learn through doing and makes lessons more memorable. You would be surprised how much maths or history you can teach using trees! As well as helping pupils make accelerated academic progress, it also helps them develop valuable skills for learning, like resilience and problem solving, as well as practical skills. For adults as well as children learning in natural environments is associated with fostering pride, belonging and involvement in the community.
Feeling connected to nature has been shown to make people more likely to take action to care for the environment, and inspiring awe and wonder about the natural world is the best way of establishing that connection. So, getting out in the Forest with your children can have a direct impact on how they live their lives, and how environmentally responsible they are as adults.
All of the above reasons are why I feel so strongly about the importance of getting people close to nature more often and illustrates why Learning and Skills is now a central part of the Heart of England Forest’s strategy.