Community Groups at Forest School

Case Study: Building the “community” in Glan Morfa Community Woodland, Rhyl.

forest school glan morfaDuring 2006 members of the Denbighshire Forest School (DFS) team worked closely with Countryside Services and residents from the Marsh Community Association (MCA) to deliver a 10 week Forest School holiday program. Having obtained Cyd Coed funding to develop infrastructure and interpretation for a Community Woodland, residents hoped that Forest School would provide a vehicle for the local community to become involved.

den buildingThe program included an introductory session in an established woodland. This gave people a sense of what their own woodland could become, and introduced them to the FS basics, including use of fire and tools. The rest of the 7 sessions were open family days on what was essentially still a brownfield site. All the resources had to be carried in, including logs for the fire circle. Some of the children used the den building materials they had previously in the woodland – and took them home with them at the end of the day!

toasting marshmallowsIn addition to the camp fire each week, activities included crafts, games and exploration. MCA and families formed the core and numbers of other local residents gradually increased over the program, with a good mix of ages and generations.

making forest school jewelleryAlthough funding for further Forest School is still being sought, the DFS team continues to encourage community involvement on Glan Morfa, including working with local school children to develop interpretation for the site, and organising work experience for KS4 Forest School students from Learning Pathways courses.

 

Case Study: Rhyl & District Women’s’ Aid Associations

In 2007 Denbighshire FS (DFS) ran a 6 week holiday programme for families from local women’s refuges, all of who had experienced domestic violence and the breakdown of their homes. The teenagers had attended FS the previous year, and now their mothers and younger siblings wanted a taste!

forest school fairyThe sessions were run in a beautiful private woodland which provided just the seclusion and peace required for participants to feel safe.

fairy forestThe program was designed to encourage teamwork between family members, and also allowed the space and time for children and mothers to work on separate projects. There were lots of crafty drop-in activities, with the hearth providing the heart of the sessions. After discussion with the outreach workers, a male Forest School Leader was included in the team, and many of the mothers commented on this rare opportunity for their families to experience a positive male role model.

Many participants continue to keep in contact with the DFS team, and to be involved in occasional open days.

Forest School Programmes meet the following Welsh Assembly Government strategies and policies:

Active recreation: “By 2023 the percentage of people in Wales using the Welsh natural environment for outdoor activities will increase from 40 – 60% and the frequency of the experience will treble”.
  • Contribute to the delivery of the PSE curriculum
  • Emphasise the promotion of good practice, and prevent the habits of bad behaviour becoming ingrained, as opposed to dealing solely with their manifestations – to give alternative opportunities for those at risk from dropping out through partnership arrangements under Extended Entitlement.
  • Reduce the number of children, young people and adults with low literacy and numeracy by rekindling their interest in learning.
  • Address inequalities in achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged areas by providing supported access to the natural environment.
  • Apply the agenda for Lifelong Learning in ways that reflect the distinctive needs and circumstances of Wales taking full account of the functions and capabilities of local government, business contributions, and the vital support of the voluntary sector.
The Welsh Assembly Government Strategy for Trees and Woodlands.
Priority 1: “By maximising the use of woodlands for learning”.
Opening up new ways to work with communities using special woodland sites.