Alternative - Adding to quality of life - spiritual value: 2009 Green Exercise, Suffolk

1. Project Title
Youth Outdoor Experience Green Exercise Project
Delivered by Suffolk Wildlife Trust with funding from Natural England.

2. List the main RWS theme(s) relevant to your project
Quality of Life and Education & training

3. Short Project Description
This project is one of nine regional demonstration projects initiated by Natural England to showcase the many ways in which our physical health and mental wellbeing can be improved and maintained in the natural environment. Each project looks at a different type of Green Exercise and targets a different audience.

The project aims to build exercise such as walking, orienteering, practical habitat management and adventurous forest school activities such as shelter building and cooking over camp fires into young people’s daily lives in and around Lowestoft through programmes of outdoor physical activity sessions on a range of local green spaces, woodlands include Gunton Wood, Carlton Marshes, Blackheath. The project raises awareness of the green spaces close to their homes, and gives them the confidence and skills to use them responsibly for the benefit of their health and wellbeing.

4. Project Status
This project is in its first year and will run for three.

5. What has been undertaken to date?

  • Effective referral routes have been established.
  • An evaluation framework has been put in place measuring the key target areas of the governments “Every Child Matters” framework.
  • Thirty-two teenagers from three schools have completed their 12-week activity programme.
  • Participants have helped film a short clip for Community TV.

6. Any specific lessons learned?

  • To reach this target audience it is essential to establish good referral mechanisms in liaison with the Health, Education and Youth Sectors.
  • Establishing links with all the major players in the education system (schools, Extended Schools, Education Other Than At School, Connexions), Primary Care Trust, District Council and other providers has been crucial to getting the project known and for local knowledge and advice.
  • Project activities need to be trialled with different groups to establish what works with whom.
  • Practical conservation tasks in woods such as path clearance, coppicing and thinning sapling regeneration provide a real sense of achievement.
  • Recruiting volunteers to assist with groups is an absolute necessity.

7. Future Developments
This demonstration programme aims to evaluate the Exercise in delivering health benefits. The evidence gathered for the effectiveness of Green activity to contribute to the 2009 National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) review of the benefits of physical activity on health. Successful pilots will then be promoted as effective interventions that can be adopted more widely by the health sector.

8. Contact Details (Cristie Purser: Project Officer)


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