Forest School Project

What we did: Spending time in Forest Schools may have an influence the health of teenagers and how they feel. This study aimed to find out girls experiences of the Nature Unlimited programme. The primary researcher (Jillian Manner) interviewed Forest School participants this past fall in order to understand their experiences in the program. The study involved one-to-one interviews with eight of the participants and focused on perceived changes to their wellbeing, resilience, and sense of community since starting the programme.

What we found: Six themes emerged from the interviews; wellbeing and mental health, resilience, community and social interaction, learning, perception of forest school and favourite and least favourite aspects of the programme and suggested improvements. Most participants felt the programme had a positive effect on their mood, confidence, social skills and relationships and these changes went beyond the Forest School setting.

What this means: This research provides preliminary evidence of the importance of Forest School programmes, such as the one provided by Nature Unlimited, in fostering positive changes in mood, social skills, confidence and relationships for teenage girls.

What’s next: The findings have been submitted to a journal for publication and should hopefully be available soon.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Jillian Manner at jillian.manner@ed.ac.uk

Forest School based sessions across the Scottish Borders. Forest School and outdoor learning programmes have been shown to play a significant role in improving mental and physical health. Participants take part in weekly sessions run in the Forest School woodland area, where they participate in nature based activities based upon their interests, such as craft, traditional skills, and photography.

The study has been designed in collaboration with the Nature Unlimited staff, who requested the data collection and study in order to rigorously evaluate their programme and intervention. Adolescent girls who are taking part in the Forest School development program will be interviewed by the primary researcher, Jillian Manner. SCPHRPs Larry DoiRuth Jepson and Yvonne Laird are also involved with the study.

Nature Unlimited Website:
http://www.natureunlimited.scot/
Nature Unlimited Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/natureunlimitedscotland/

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