Over the summer, we tried something new at the Farm – forest school for young people with learning disabilities and autism.
It was a popular project and we had lots of fun teaching the youngsters how to build dens, craft with natural materials, and cook on a fire using food grown on the Farm. The activities were a resounding success – helping the youngsters to experience natural materials and the outdoors in a completely different way. They explored their senses, learnt where food comes from, developed bushcraft skills, and worked as a team.
Creating clay animals was also very popular and we could see how beneficial it was as a sensory experience, particularly for Tom, who has autism and is non-verbal.
Our staff and volunteers thoroughly enjoyed encouraging and supporting the young people to get playful with healthy food. They discovered how basil, courgettes, tomatoes, and rocket are grown, how to harvest them, and then to make delicious pizza.
When it came to building a fire, it was clear to see the youngsters’ confidence grow. Jamie was extremely nervous to be near the fire at first, but after one session, said: ‘I love collecting sticks for the fire!’
We also challenged the young people to work together to engineer, negotiate, and construct shelters.
There tends to be a lack of provision offering outdoor activities for young people with learning disabilities, but we know that motivating them to get outdoors can have substantial health benefits; fresh air, healthy eating, increased mental well-being, and opportunities to make new friends.
Everyone had a fantastic time and we can’t wait to hold forest school again, next year. Watch this space for details!