Funding from Awards for All to Pilot Well-being Programme
Two groups of teenage girls are benefitting from our ‘Wild About Well-being’ programme and the results have been impressive so far. The girls are not thriving at school for various reasons; some have challenging home environments, some are suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues such as low self-esteem, some are bullied and isolated.
Once a week Nature Unlimited welcomes the girls to the woods where they are given a safe place to be themselves, to form new friendship bonds and strengthen existing ones. They are supported to develop their emotional intelligence and to communicate openly, while participating in nature connection activities ranging from pond dipping and cooking on the fire to chilling out in hammocks and everything else in between. They learn to tie knots and put up shelters, as well as foraging for wild food. They work as a team and choose what they want to do each week – the element of choice gives them control in a world where they are often disempowered.
Each week we share a meal, which we’ve cooked together on the fire and reflect on how we feel about what has happened in the session. It has been a pleasure to see them blossom – a closed and anxious girl has become expressive and animated. Someone who was only ever able to talk about fictional characters from the virtual world of video games and TV, now excitedly tells us the high points of her day – a massive step forward for a girl who had previously told us she felt nothing but sadness. Another participant, who struggled to relate in a positive way, now feels secure enough to show that she can be kind and caring towards the rest of the group.
We’ll be meeting up as a group over the summer holidays and are all really looking forward to going camping for a couple of days together. They will then have another block of sessions in the Autumn term, before current funding ends.
Nature Unlimited have asked Edinburgh University to carry out evaluative research on the benefits of this project and hope to obtain funding for a much needed longer term project, which will also include a boys group.
Please read the Impact-Report-on-Wild-About-Wellbeing project.