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Outdoor school grows from strength to strength
A project to get children more involved in the great outdoors has proved so successful that it is expanding to Saltaire and Wyke.
Bradford Forest Schools introduce children to the idea of playing in the woods, an idea in danger of becoming old fashioned in the days of smart phones and 24 hour children’s TV.
Started in 2010, some of its school holiday sessions, especially in Ilkley and St Ives near Bingley, almost always sell out.
For this spring’s sessions, organisers decided to add Judy Woods in Wyke and Hirst Woods in Saltaire to the list of forest schools that already includes sites in Keighley, Bradford, and Ilkley.
Research shows the number of children that play in natural environments like forests has fallen as low as one in ten, caused by a mix of parents becoming over cautious about safety and technology being available to more children. But the people behind the forest schools don’t think this trend is irreversible, and given the chance children will jump at activities like climbing trees or building dens.
Get Out More CIC is a Keighley based social enterprise which has run successful forest schools in Bradford woods every school holiday since August 2010, and have seen a rising demand for places. Director Annie Berrington said: “I think parents want their children to get outside and get some exercise and fresh air. This is a great way for them to do that in a safe environment.
“All the schools are in public woods, so they are places the children and their families can keep coming back to. We do activities like den building and games like goodies and baddies as well as creative things like making natural artwork. The children seem to go instinctively back to the old games. If you give children the opportunity they will instinctively want to go and climb trees - it just comes naturally.
“Children might get board and think ‘what is there to do?’ We hope to introduce them to parks where they find plenty to do.
“When we run the school the ones in St Ives and Ilkley always fill up, so we hope the new ones do too.”
The new forest schools will take place April 2 and 3 in Judy Woods and April 4 and 5 in Saltaire, and are aimed at children aged 5-11 years. Places cost £15 per day. For more information contact Annie Berrington on 07974 935105 or e-mail email@example.com.
Next weekend will also see a similar event for adults. The Bradford Forestfest is a two-day event including camping, outdoor workshops and campfire entertainment at Black Hills Scout Camp in Cottingley. Contact Bradford Community Environment Project on (01274) 223236.