PEOPLE are learning English and boosting their wellbeing at the same time thanks to an initiative launched by a Keighley organisation.

Eden Community Association is spearheading the pioneering English In The Woods venture, after it identified barriers within the South Asian population to education and enjoying the outdoors.

The association's development manager, Eyarun Nessa, joined forces with an English for Speakers of other Languages tutor – known as Carol Anne F – to lead the project.

"Classroom-based learning is not for everyone," says Eyarun.

"Everybody has potential to do great things, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid. This perception can impact someone's confidence and mental wellbeing and deter them from aspiring high.

"The pilot phase of the project was a huge success, and we have secured further funding from CNet to ensure its continuity.

"It was the students' exceptional level of passion, and the dedication of staff, that played a pivotal role in transforming the vision into a reality. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to them all."

She adds: "The students are elated with the profound positive effects it has had on their learning journey. It has not only provided them with a path back into education, but has rekindled their confidence, fostering an improvement in their mental health and overall wellbeing."

During the sessions, which include a walk, blood pressure checks are carried out at the start and finish to help illustrate how the classes can benefit health.

Around 90 per cent of participants have a lower blood pressure level by the end of the session.

Carol says: "The project offers opportunities for women in Keighley whose first language is not English to enjoy connecting with nature.

"We seek to build on the many existing skills of our students and encourage emotional, cognitive, psychological and physical engagement with the outdoors. The woodland environment provides inspiring opportunities to speak in English, learn new vocabulary, read signs and notices, talk about colours, shapes and textures, and learn about climate change and the importance of nature – the curriculum is endless.

"It is well documented that forest schools offer an array of advantages to learners. Students who participate in this programme can expect to emerge with heightened confidence, improved communication abilities, a deeper understanding of nature and enhanced physical skills."

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