With thanks to a grant from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, our Education and Engagement Officer has been able to create a brand new education programme for Lancashire primary schools as part of our HEAL (Health and Environmental Action Lancashire) project.
Water + Wellness has been running since January 2022 and will finish in December 2022. Each school taking part receives one session per half term- that’s six sessions in total for each school over the year. Water + Wellness mirrors the aims of HEAL in its activities. It helps with nature recovery and connects people in areas of deprivation to the outdoors. Our aim is to connect everyone with the the benefits the outdoors brings to mental and physical well-being.
We have worked with five Lancashire primary schools in Blackburn and two in Nelson on this programme. Here is what those schools have been up to for the past year:
Each school took part in a health walk. Plus, some pupils chose to do a litter pick in their local area at the same time. Lots of pupils were surprised to see such nice green spaces, such as Witton Park in Blackburn, so close to where they live and go to school! There have been many links made between green and blue spaces, and mental health. These children were able to benefit from these on their walks.
In the second session, all pupils tried their hand at tree planting. Whether that was on their school grounds through the PLanT (Pennine Lancashire Treescapes) project or helping to create a woodland at Hard Platts in Nelson.
Pupils learnt about why trees are so important to people, wildlife, and the planet and what the trees need in order to survive.
Water safety and the countryside code
In the final session before the summer holiday, pupils learnt all about how to keep themselves and each other safe when near water. Most pupils had never heard of the Countryside Code. So, we introduced this to them as well. Our aim being that, over the summer, they would be able to get outside while keeping themselves, each other, and the environment safe.
Natural crafts and mindfulness
Crafts are great for mindfulness. Pupils created crafts using and inspired by the natural world around us, including Hapa Zome and natural tie-dying.
They thought about what nature means to them and what they are thankful to nature for, before a short mindful river meditation session.
Pupils learnt all about the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates. These sessions also delved into the characteristics and traits of different groups of animals. They then became Freshwater Invertebrate Detectives, using Field Studies Council ID guides to identify photos of freshwater invertebrates. Finally, pupils worked together to make some bug hotels to keep our invertebrates warm and dry over winter.
In the final Water + Wellness session, we discussed seed dispersal and how different seeds are adapted to disperse in different ways. Children then put their acting skills into practice by acting out several different seed dispersal scenarios, from a seed getting caught in fox fur to falling into a river and being carried away by the current. The final activity was to plant an acorn! We will be keeping in contact with all the schools to check on their baby oak trees as they develop.