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Future for Wildlife

During the Summer of 2017, Hengistbury Head hosted a project aimed at encouraging children to spend more time outside and to learn more about local wildlife.

About the project

During the Summer of 2017, Hengistbury Head hosted a project aimed at encouraging children to spend more time outside and to learn more about local wildlife.

The Ranger team based on the Head, recognised a need through their activities and events programme, to reach a wider audience. A Future for Wildlife, targeted children who attended schools in areas of deprivation – or whose catchment areas included deprived areas, with an aim to involving them in week-long wildlife activities.

A key component of this project, was to assess the impact of these activities on the children’s wellbeing, perceived restorativeness and connectedness to nature.

The results from this questionnaire was extremely positive, the overall wellbeing of the children saw a marginal improvement, with positive emotions increasing on average and no substantial change in negative emotions.

The weekly activity schedule was extremely varied and designed to maintain the children’s attention and to aim as widely as possible to find something that interested everyone. Alongside the pond dipping, moth trapping and mammal surveying activities, two charities supported the project by “taking over” on two of the days.

Dorset Wildlife Trust carried out Forest Schools Activities each Wednesday. Katie Wilkinson from the Trust, who lead the children in sensory games, crafts and animal yoga, felt the project was a very valuable intervention: “the children were full of enthusiasm and loved exploring the woodland through sensory games, plus they got to make their very own forest school pendant to take home and have a cup of hot chocolate under a tarp in the rain – what a perfect way to spend a day in the woods”.

Georgia French, founder of marine charity Sharkstuff was overjoyed with how the children responded to her activities on a Tuesday, “I saw children who felt stifled by a classroom environment flourish during outdoor activities, such as shark sculpture making on the beach, exhibiting skills, enthusiasm and teamwork that were not apparent previously – and it was an absolute pleasure to behold”.

We were delighted to gain funding for, and coordinate such a positive and important project and the results show us that we made a real impact on children’s lives, if only over a relatively short space of time.

Project Co-ordinator, Jess Hodges reflected “it was amazing to see how the children progressed during their week with us, on the first morning, most children where quite hesitant to engage with us, however, by the end of just the first day they noticeably relaxed and threw themselves into it much more. It was telling that on the final afternoon there were a few tears from some of the children, who expressed that they didn’t want the week to end and that they wanted to come back. As the project came to an end I tried to contact all the parents of the children to ask if they felt that their children benefitted from the experience, the responses included a family of one of the attendees who now frequently visit and explore Hengistbury Head, a result of attending our activities. However, the one that sticks out in my mind was the little girl who had told her mum that she wanted to work with sharks in the future”.

Download the report

You can read the report project and a short summary document (which contains all the key points), by downloading them below.

There is also information about work that was carried out with other groups and organisations, who all benefitted from this project. We are looking at ways of carrying elements of this work out in the future and have some ideas of how we might be able to do this, working with key partners.

'Thank you' to our supporters

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our funders: A Future for Wildlife would not have been possible without contributions from:

Tesco: Bags of Help, AFC Bournemouth’s Green Goals, Christchurch Harbour Ornithological Group, LV (Liverpool Victoria) and local improvement contributions from ward councillors in: Boscombe West, East Southborne and Tuckton and West Southborne. Also, a huge thank you to Jewell Academy who provided a mini-bus for the duration of the project.

We would also like to thank the Students and Staff of: Jewell Academy, Stourfield Junior School and also Bethany Junior School. The staff of Michael House, the Children’s University, Bournemouth Young Carers, BCVS and the STEPs scheme at Bournemouth and Poole College.

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