This small forest school based in Eastbourne primarily supports children with additional learning difficulties and their families.
With the grants allocated by the Foundation, Wilder Life Wellbeing has been running “Nature Connection Family Days”, “Teen Woodland Days”, forest school and outdoor learning for local families, school groups and vulnerable teens. In response to increased social isolation within vulnerable and disadvantaged families and young people, these projects aim to promote social interactions and foster peer support.
The activities offered in the project are a range of forest school style sessions in the woods, including laying and lighting a campfire, painting using natural materials, hammocks for relaxation and fun, rope swings, den-making and archery. The children can also learn how to use clay to make tree spirits boggarts and clay creatures.
All children thrive when in contact with nature, as this setting helps fostering confidence and social skills. For children with learning difficulties the environment is even more important, as traditional classroom settings can pose challenges. Wilder Life Wellbeing meets the needs of their beneficiaries, giving the children the attention they need, but their work is also vital for the children’s, parents and siblings. The group offers them a safe place to enjoy the outdoors together as a family, whilst feeling supported and relaxed. Parents find it particularly supportive to be with other ISEND families. Strong connections are made during the sessions, which in some cases have extended to meeting together outside of the group’s Family Days.
“The young people’s friendship and confidence developed hugely, they were engaging in independent conversations and play. They shared their personal and special interests with each other, without fear of judgement.”
A member of staff