March 2022 – Woodland Wanderings
OutLET: Play Resource
Hamilton, South Lanarkshire
OutLET: Play Resource was established in 2016. Based in South Lanarkshire, the charity operates an outdoor programme which supports young people aged 10-16 who, for a range of reasons, including poor mental health/well-being and trauma, are at risk of leaving education without any formal qualification.
In August 2021, OutLET: Play Resource received an award of £2,301.00 from The Essentia Foundation to continue their weekly outdoor activities. Grant monies went towards supporting OutLET Forest Leaders and Play Rangers who take small groups of young people (aged 10-16) for a weekly afternoon session in a local woodland. These are young people who are ‘not attending school’ for a variety of reasons and who are at risk of disengaging completely from education. These sessions provide them with an opportunity to engage positively in a different learning environment, build their confidence, and achieve.
Thanks to the support of The Essentia Foundation, OutLET: Play Resource have been able to offer young people the chance to experiment with their learning and spend time in the great outdoors!
The project commenced in the Autumn of 2021 and activities have already enabled local youth to grow in confidence. One such example is Andrew* who is a long-term project participant. From initially spending more time pursuing solo activities, Andrew now chooses to interact with rest of group and readily suggests activities. In the past, his engagement in activities were very fleeting – he can now maintain his focus to complete projects.
Having space to be creative in the woodlands enables Andrew to find ways to use that same creativity to develop strategies to make situations he finds difficult – like the classroom – work better for him. During his time on the project, Andrew has shown an increase in the amount of time he is able to focus for, becoming absorbed in complicated activities such as whittling and building a campfire.
“Outdoor Alternative Education has been so good for him; he struggles with attending school and is awaiting an autism assessment so things can be hard for him, but he has been happy to along once a week and experience the outdoors and be around his peers. Taking part in various activities which in turn has helped with his confidence, understanding his feelings a bit more and helping him get into school which helps us as a family. All in all we’re just happy that he’s been able to attend a brilliant, friendly resource.”Andrew’s Mum