Funding from the McAlpine Community Fund has supported the redevelopment of a woodland site in Oakham that will enable users to engage in outdoor activities. The site has been redesigned to be more accessible to the local community and has a core of 8 regular volunteers caring for the garden.
The woodland site now hosts Forest School sessions twice a week which are regularly attended by children with autism, and other additional needs, adults with learning disabilities, and a variety of mainstream schools, and home educated children. Forest Schools provide a long-term process where children have time to immerse themselves in and develop an appreciation for their environment. Playing and learning in this way develops confidence, self esteem, self awareness, self regulation, risk assessing, and relationship building, outside the classroom.
In partnership with Rutland Wildlife Trust, who advised on how to manage the woodland, tree work has been undertaken to make the woodland safe for public access. The adult workshops and regular volunteer sessions have inspired community growing, sharing and wellbeing. The groups have worked hard to clear the woodland, and re-establish paths, seating areas, habitats, and areas for free play. They have also rebuilt a wooden bridge over the stream. The bridge was designed and built by an unemployed young man, one of the regular volunteers, who is now working towards setting up his own business.
Root and Branch Out provide forest school, allotment and outdoor learning projects for children, families and adults in Rutland. They are sustainable thinkers with a passion for the outdoors. They know the value of nature, fresh air, mud, physical activity and community. There are no other providers of Forest School or specific outdoor learning or wellbeing in Rutland. They are exploring the potential for developing a “nature on prescription” initiative.