Earlier this month several programmes came to an end at Rice Lane City Farm, Liverpool. The farm hosted a 12-week Nature’s Therapy programme, and a seven-week Family Forest Tots programme, which was split across two weekly sessions due to high demand. All programmes were run in partnership with the Cass Foundation. The foundation’s relationship with the Life Rooms, Walton ensured participants for the Nature’s Therapy programme were those whose wellbeing would benefit most from engaging with the natural environment. In addition, the farms popularity as an educational and leisure destination amongst local parents, ensured news of the Family Forest Tots programme spread far and wide. In total, 66 people were engaged across the three weekly sessions.
Although the target audience varied, the intended benefits to participant health and wellbeing were the same. Increasing social interactions and levels of physical activity, the learning of new skills, and reducing feelings of stress were all targeted in the design and delivery of each programme. The 14 acres of woodland on site offered an abundance of green space for the participants to explore, discover, and learn. In an environment far removed from the hustle and bustle of modern day life. The overriding focus of the sessions was enabling people to increase their connection to nature, thus gaining improvements to mental wellbeing. This was achieved through a wide range of participant-led activities such as den building, cooking over fires, creating woodland crafts, playing group games, and mindfulness sessions.
Preliminary analysis of the data collected from participants reveals an increase in mental wellbeing and physical activity behaviour. Additionally, anecdotal feedback from participants highlighted how they felt the programmes were of benefit to them and what aspects they enjoyed the most:
[I benefited by] getting out of the house to meet new people, getting out in nature. I found it helped me with my mental health very much.
Learning new skills, meeting new people – being outdoors and finding time for myself.
I would love this course to continue as I really feel the benefits.
Being outdoors together – exploring… enjoying and encouraging the wonder of nature.
My little boy loves being outside therefore learning about the outdoors and teaching him new ways to play was really important for me. He enjoyed making new friends with the other children and all the different activities, as well as getting messy.
Learning to slow my pace to match my toddlers, to give him the time to explore and have fun without the usual rush!
We have thoroughly enjoyed the programme. It was exciting, fun, interactive and run excellently by the staff, we have fab memories from this adventure, they will last forever. Thank you so much.