Counselling & Therapeutic Services
It is well established that exposure to natural places can lead to positive mental health outcomes. 'Green Exercise' comprising of activity in green places (in the presence of nature) is predicted to lead to positive health outcomes, as well as promote ecological knowledge, foster social bonds and influence behavioral choices.
Green spaces are ideal surroundings for outdoor learning, where engaging with nature can lead to enhanced connected-ness to nature and increased environmental knowledge, known as green education. One way to increase children’s contact with nature is within the formalized educational system, both in terms of the amount of exposure to nature in the learning environment and learning about nature (green education). Recent years have seen a growth in use by schools of allotments, gardens, woodlands and green playgrounds as both learning and play environments. However the on-going care and maintenance and planning of these spaces prove time consuming.
We work with schools around the North East of England , helping them utilise their outdoor spaces such as Allotments and woodland areas to help break the link between poverty, success at school and future life chances to ensure that every pupil reaches their full potential. Offering one to one sessions, small group tutoring, or whole class assemblies to ignite a passion for the out of doors. Outdoor, Alternative Education offers a stepping stone for children and their schools to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap between them and their peers. At the same, being out of doors and building an engagement with wild nature offers a time of reflection, through outdoor exploration nature allows for unstructured play, generating a sense of freedom, independence and inner strength which children can draw upon when experiencing future incidents of stress. Furthermore children’s relationship with nature is a fundamental part of their development, allowing opportunities for self-discovery and natural environmental experience.
The prevalence of adolescent problem behaviour has steadily increased and these ‘young
people at risk’ are often labelled as underachievers, socially inept, untrustworthy and of low self esteem. Low levels of self-esteem are often associated with self-destructive behaviour such as violence and crime, alcohol and drug abuse, dropping out of school, and poor academic achievement. Spending time in the natural environment facilitates stress recovery, encourages exercise participation, stimulates development in children and provides opportunities for personal development. By encouraging increased outdoor free-play within schools during the age of 6 -11 years ( when memories are first laid down in continuous narratives. Children engage more outside the parental sphere of control, and explore their environments to make memories and develop cognitive capacities) with skilled staff who know when to talk, when to stay quiet, when to allow risks and when to intervene must aid the development of vulnerable and disadvantaged children in schools and reduce the isolation of becoming an adolescent with a label in an unforgiving society.
Whatever shape nature takes, it offers each child a larger world separate from parents and carers.
We provide the opportunity to escape into the school oudoor environment, just to explore, just to feel free, just to realise full potential.