Children Embracing Unplugged Playtime Through Outdoor Activities

17th August 2023
Pictured: Rowan Bailey – Member of Forest School

“The Forest School means a lot to me, I can come here, take part in activities and hang out with friendly people. It is great fun for me.”

The thoughts of Rowan Bailey, a child who attends the Forest School at the Downshire Gardens in Downpatrick, which he believes has helped him to get out and enjoy what nature has to offer.

The fun filled five-week programme, involving children between 11 and 16,  was organised to help young people develop confidence and social skills by interacting with the outdoors.

Senior Mental Health Practitioner, Melissa Patterson explains what the service does. “It’s about promoting mental health in a different way. We help to encourage children by offering physical activity, engaging with peers, learning new hobbies and using creativity.

The Forest School highlights that outdoor experiences can provide opportunities to explore, discover and appreciate the natural world.

“This helps the children become more expressive, compared to being in a clinical environment. The Forest School is now in its second year and the progress the children have made is just fantastic.”

The programme has proved extremely popular and it is hoped it will run again next year.