Forest school introduces students to the wild world

Forest school introduces students to the wild world

Freddie and his Mum lighting a fire in the woods

Freddie and his mum lighting a fire

Taking time out to explore and experience the natural world is life-enhancing for everyone, but particularly for individuals with disabilities who may have restricted opportunities outside home. In 2020, the Evelyn Trust funded a new ‘forest school’ run by Cambridge arts charity Rowan Humberstone to offer creative and fun activities in a wild woodland setting to adults with learning disabilities.

“We are really lucky to have the use of a private wood where we can take the students to spend the day on a wide range of art and outdoor fun, from making mobiles to chopping wood, storytelling and cooking on a campfire. The days are participant-led, so we tailor what we can offer to the needs and interests of the individuals involved,” explains Forest School Leader Russell Cuthbert.

“Often activities start small and get bigger and more challenging as participants gain in confidence over the programme. Many students arrive feeling fear and anxiety about the woodland and the activities planned. It’s a joy to watch as they lose that fear throughout the programme and really get stuck in. Benefits to students include developing social skills, team working and improved confidence, but the forest school also helps them build up practical skills, such as the use of tools.”

Rowan’s forest school offers experiences for adults of all ages and has had a really positive evaluation by students who took part in the 2019 pilot. It has been suspended during the pandemic lockdowns, but as an outdoor activity, they hope to get back on track in April 2021 using suitable safety measures.

There’s more information on the invaluable work of Rowan Humberstone at

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