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In Conversation: Liam and Nature Play

by <object object at 0x7fc0b5e5c580> last modified 27/03/2024 01:06 PM

Nature Play After School Club - Image Credit: Alastair Brookes

As part of our children and young people's programme offer free after school provision for children who attend local primary schools. Children who attend are aged 8yrs-11yrs and many may limited access to any green space at home. We caught up with Liam Callaghan, who delivers the Nature Play sessions to find out more.

Hi! Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background

I’m Liam, the Nature Play lead at Trinity – I have a passion for youth work, having written and illustrated my first children’s book, worked with SEND children for several years and facilitated a variety of workshops for young people.

A How did you get involved with Nature Play at Trinity?

I've been leading the Nature Play project since its beginnings in September 2023. I spent a lot of time at Trinity Centre attending various events before I became a part of the team – I first helped with a Nature Play workshop over the summer of 2023 and through this, Trinity reached out with the opportunity of working together long-term on a similar project, and here I am!

What is the Nature Play project?

The after-school Nature Play sessions we run are a perfect opportunity for local 8-11-year-olds to spend some quality time out in nature, thanks to our beautiful garden space in the heart of Bristol. We operate a walking bus from 3 local primary schools to maximise our outreach and have seen amazing results. We began by having the children create a set of ground rules, which they all agreed on, based around respect and getting involved.

So what do the sessions involve?

After introducing the children to the garden space at Trinty, there was still fruit growing in the garden, so the children would pick apples from the apple tree when they arrived as a tasty snack. Most weeks they would forage flavours to make their own tea, learning about when certain plants fruit, the physics of heat drawing out the flavours and nutrients to make the tea, as well as the communal nature of making and sharing tea together. The group are always very happy to show any newcomers around the garden space – they have found a real sense of security and belonging in the garden and have a great sense of agency within the space.

As the nights grew longer, the children learned about how winter is a necessary part of the life cycle, and how we can relate to the seasons within our own lives, have ‘sunny seasons’ and ‘chilly spells’. They also learned how to safely make a fire to get us through the wintry weather, with some children helping others overcome their fear of flames. The children loved sharing stories around the fire (some scarier than others!), instilling a warm sense of community.

What's the plan for Nature Play going forward into the spring?

As we Spring into 2024, the children have begun making use of their raised bed, dedicated to the after-school club (which they have nearly finished decorating) as well as space in the polytunnel, where the children have been learning how and when to plant different veg (and why) and learning about seasonal changes and the effect climate change is having on us and other parts of the world. Some children have some prior knowledge which they have been happy to share with others during the sessions, building a sense of communal skill sharing.

What benefits do you think the children involved with Nature Play gain?

The children who attend the sessions  have really blossomed over the months, and there’s been noticeable growth in individuals’ confidence, knowledge and overall wellbeing as well as seeing friendships being formed. I can’t wait to see how the children grow over the coming months.

If you are a parent/carer of a primary aged child (8yrs-11yrs) who would like to attend Nature Play click here to find out more and sign up.

Nature Play is held on Monday's during term time and is made possible due to funding from Quartet Community Foundation, WESport and Bristol City Council.

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