Jubilee Woods: helping young people reconnect with nature
Our team have been helping young people to reconnect with nature and get out and about on its beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal.
The Canal & River Trust have been working with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust (WWT) who run a youth wellbeing programme for vulnerable and disadvantaged young people between the ages of 9-18. The programme looks at both physical and mental wellbeing; providing conservation and wild play activities, designed to create positive changes, such as:
- self-esteem and confidence
- good social communication skills
- positive attitude - aspiration and motivation
- resilience to learning through challenges
A range of groups have taken part in waterway-based activities, including a local primary school who are providing outdoor experiences for children who respond well to learning outside the classroom, holiday activity groups from Splash who provide free, positive activities for young people age 9-16 years who are facing challenges in life, and Spurgeons young carers.
Memorable days of fun
The activities were tailored to suit the groups, and the activity days were action packed with:
- a boat trip from Devizes Wharf to the top of Caen Hill flight, which offered the young people a chance to have a go at junior lock keeping activity (certificates were provided at the end)
- a picnic or BBQ lunch at Caen Hill Locks
time at Caen Hill's Jubilee Wood for building dens and wild play activities
- a walk to Devizes along the towpath and a visit to Kennet & Avon Canal Trust's museum back at Devizes Wharf
What did the children think?
On some of the days there was plenty of rain, although it didn't seem to affect the spirit of the children as they built dens and ran around regardless. Here's what some of them had to say about the activities:
“I liked the locks because they let the water through and all of us got to have a go”
“I really liked how I played eye spy with the spotter sheets”
“We liked feeding the swans and we liked the two Colins” (our two volunteer lock keepers are both called Colin!)
“Next time I'd like to go fishing”
“Teacher: Shall we do it again?” Child: “Tomorrow!”
Ben from Splash! (who supervised the group) told us that their trip was well oversubscribed. And that "they would definitely like to do more as this was a first and clearly a lot of interest".
Tamsin Phipps, partnership chair said: "Our Kennet & Avon Waterway Action Plan includes a priority to work with youth groups so canals and rivers are more relevant to younger people. There has been a notable interest in the boat trips and activities, both from our partners and the young people themselves. Crucially, I think it's the fun element we provide that enables them to be who they are and really helps their mental health. So, we would like to expand this new area of engagement."
Last Edited: 18 September 2023
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