Hundreds of children will have the chance to learn about the natural world – and get muddy – at an urban ‘oasis’ in south London.
The ‘green prescription’ scheme run by the charity Oasisplay allows youngsters from toddlers to teenagers to take part in environmental learning sessions and activities such as pond-dipping, bug-hunting and growing and cooking their own food.
Sessions are centred around the organisation’s nature garden in Stockwell, which allows children to escape the urban jungle, roam free and let their imagination run wild.
The project, expected to benefit around 250 youngsters, is being made possible thanks to a £70,500 grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.
Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee Dhruv Patel said:
“Growing up in a very urban environment means children often don’t have any experience of nature and perhaps don’t have the freedom to roam that people of my generation did when they were young.
“The benefit of this scheme is it allows children a safe place where they can explore the natural world, learn about the environment and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of getting close to nature.”
The funding will also provide for weekend community sessions for all the family and a series of seasonal events such as spring planting, summer solstice celebrations and winter markets.
Parents and carers – including new mums – also reap the benefits of making new friends, taking part in group activities and getting close to nature.
Joanne Brown, Oasisplay director, said:
“Our activities are very much child-led, giving the kids the chance to choose what they want to do, to build their confidence and social skills and develop a sense of who they are and the world around them.
“It’s a nurturing, open and honest environment where they can go off on their own, take risks and learn to understand and respect nature and be imaginative – the kind of things you can’t really teach in a classroom.
“With older children, sometimes outside they feel like they have to try and be grown up, but when they come to the nature garden they’re in an environment where they can forget about all that and just be kids again.”