Lanark children enjoy green space cleared through partnership project
From nettles to natural play
Children from St Mary’s Primary School, Lanark, are reaping the benefits of a recently cleared greenspace next to their school through an ongoing programme of outdoor learning.
The area was cleared through a partnership project with Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI), Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) and Greenbelt.
Volunteers from social enterprise, CCI, put in around 50 hours to clear the site. Tasks included litter picking, cutting back nettles and brambles, removing wood piles and creating informal routes through undergrowth to open areas. However, landscaping work on site was kept to a minimum, in order to retain a sense of wilderness. Watch the video of the volunteers transforming the space below.
It has enabled teachers to run Forest School sessions with nursery and early primary aged children to help their transition to school.
Despite the site being next to the school, the area provides a sense of wilderness and opportunities for outdoor play and exploration for children that they don't get within the school grounds. The school has adopted a 'leave no trace' policy which means that there is no evidence of their visit after they have left – removing any litter and leaving the site as they found it.
Alison Brown, teacher at St Mary’s Primary says, “Thanks to the project, we are able to engage in an ongoing programme of outdoor learning that just would not be possible without the use of this site. The children really look forward to their time in the greenspace.”
Because the site is within a short walking distance from the school, it means that the children can take part in regular and safe outdoor learning opportunities. The school can also measure a reduction in their carbon footprint through not having to travel by bus to sites further afield.
Karen Dobbins, CAVLP Development Officer says, “The project has engendered a great sense of stewardship over the area with the children, who have witnessed and taken part in the transformation of the site they now love to play in. They also helped maintain the site by doing their own litter pick.”
Greenbelt’s Duncan Park commented, “It’s been a pleasure for Greenbelt to assist with such a fantastic project. The woodland provides habitats that encourage the introduction of and extension to the variety of plants, insects and animals in the area.
"The clearing strikes a balance between maintaining the absolute necessary ‘wildness’ of mature woodland with enough space for local school children to learn more about the wonders of their natural environment. We look forward to continuing to work with local communities and spreading the word about responsible land stewardship and sustainable living.”
The project is part of the wider CAVLP outdoor learning focussed Growing Up Wild initiative. The initiative includes Forest School training, family outdoor play sessions and Windows of Learning, a family focussed project promoting the joy of learning. CAVLP also hosted Lanarkshire’s first ever outdoor learning conference, Growing Up Wild, last November, under the same banner.