An outdoor adventure! New scheme gives children chance to explore National Park
An exciting initiative has been launched for schoolchildren to explore the nature, history and culture of the South Downs.
Schools across Sussex and Hampshire are being invited to take part in “Explorers of the South Downs”, which will offer a range of fun activities for young people to connect with the natural world and learn about the National Park.
Children will enjoy an outdoor adventure and learn new skills, such as building a shelter, bushcraft, tree identification, bug hunting, mindfulness activities, environmental art, team building and photography – all focused on the landscape, culture and history of the South Downs.
The project is a partnership between Schools Without Walls (So Sussex) the South Downs National Park Authority, and Friends of the South Downs, whose generous donation has made the project possible.
The aim is to support schools with a significant number of disadvantaged pupils and/or SEND places (Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities).
Emma Bruce, Youth and Community Engagement Officer for the National Park, said: “It’s really exciting to be launching this brand new initiative to help connect young people with nature.
“We recently surveyed over 200 schools in the area and all of them believed outdoor learning was good for mental and physical health, while more than three quarters said it raised attainment in children. With Children’s Mental Health Week coming up in February, we couldn’t be announcing this initiative at a better time.
“The National Park is an education resource we want schools to use and enjoy. There are so many opportunities to learn in the great outdoors and that’s what this scheme is all about – giving young people that connection with the environment that will hopefully last a lifetime.”
Andrew Lovett, a trustee of Friends of the South Downs, said: “We are delighted to be able to fund this excellent project. Helping children to understand and love the Downs is one of our top priorities. 2023 is our centenary year and this project is a great way to celebrate.”
Caroline Fleming, who helps to run the Schools Without Walls programme for So Sussex, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for children and young people to discover and explore the South Downs, to connect to nature and learn about their own local environment.
“At a time when schools are facing increasing financial challenges and school trips are becoming increasingly expensive, this funding offers much-needed support and opportunities to ensure equal opportunities for pupils to experience what the National Park has to offer.”
The scheme will run until September and has a range of options, including working with a single class or a year group, as well as activity days and trips in the National Park. Funding is also available to pay for transport if needed. The initiative is open to primary and secondary schools.