Ribble Explorers

Ribble Rivers Trust’s education programme has developed and improved across the years. Now, the Trust is branching out towards the Ribble catchment’s coastal communities with our new Ribble Explorers programme, helping young people in coastal areas to form meaningful connections with nature.

This programme will focus on the Fylde coast and Ribble estuary, in the FY1, FY3 and FY4 postcode areas.

What does this Ribble Explorers involve?

Ribble Explorers is a new project focusing on the Ribble Catchments coastal communities. This project has been part funded by the Ernest Cook Foundation, a educational charity founded in 1952 to help every child experience the joys of the outdoors.

Ribble Rivers Trust know that young people in these communities would dramatically benefit from reconnecting with nature. By examining National Health datasets we can see this area has high levels of outdoor inactivity in children; high levels of depression; and high levels of obesity and inactivity related illnesses. Furthermore, areas of Blackpool in particular have very high levels of deprivation as well as high levels of excess weight in children. There is a clear need for outdoor learning in these areas. This will help to connect people with nature and have a positive effect on mental and physical wellbeing. Outdoor learning will also encourage green thinking, which will help protect the environment for future generations.

All of our education sessions and activities take place outdoors where possible. Our aim is to bring the river to the classroom and the classroom to the river. We take a place-based approach to education. Enabling us to celebrate natural heritage and inspiring pupils to take responsibility for improving their local environment. Additionally, this helps people to form a connection with the wildlife supported by their local river habitat, which we hope will lead to them wanting to protect these areas.

Why link Water + Wellness?

Ribble Rivers Trust recently took the lead on HEAL (Health and Environmental Action Lancashire). HEAL is a partnership project which aimed to help with nature recovery and connect people to the outdoors. One particular focus being the more deprived areas with low access to green and blue spaces.

Through HEAL, we developed a new education programme, Water + Wellness, which had a focus on getting pupils outside for all the benefits it brings to mental and physical wellbeing. Pupils took part in activities including health walks, litter picks, tree planting, invertebrate identification, learning about water safety and the Countryside Code, and nature crafts.

One school that took part in Water + Wellness was a primary school in Shadsworth, Blackburn. Chiefly due to the fact that the area has has very high levels of obesity/inactivity-released illnesses. It also falls among within the top 10% of deprived areas of England. Furthermore, we found that children in this school weren’t given the opportunity to explore their local greenspaces. So, we gave each child a map of their local area with walk routes included, to encourage them to go for walks with their family and friends. A large proportion of the children told us in following sessions that they had been for walks with family members. A huge positive change.

Water + Wellness is just one example of the positive impact Ribble Rivers Trust’s education programme can have on the children and young people we work with. So far, it helped children from these more deprived areas who don’t usually access greenspaces to get outside and experience nature. We hope to carry the learning from this project forward through the Ribble Explorers programme.