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Boro Active Explorers is a one-year initiative to engage communities in Thorntree & Brambles and North Ormesby with their local environment, increase physical activity and improve mental wellbeing.

Through local knowledge, the You’ve Got This local delivery pilot highlighted that green space within this community was underused, and many people living there didn’t understand what they could use these areas for. In addition, local schools were also not using community spaces as part of learning. Both issues presented an opportunity to encourage families and schools to take advantage of the green spaces around them and show them they could be safe.

Boro Active Explores is a way to get to the heart of this issue, and it will benefit local people’s lives and improve their physical activity. It will also help families, volunteers, and school children reconnect through outdoor learning.  They will be able to take part in new and exciting adventures that combine literacy, numeracy and life skills to discover, create and have fun.

Older children, parents and carers will also be encouraged to participate and volunteer in their community. This will equip them with personal and physical strength and the emotional resilience needed for future development and employment.

The initiative required a whole system change approach. To achieve this, it is being delivered by three experienced partners who will work together. Middlesbrough Environment City will be the lead, bringing their knowledge of delivering Forest Schools, outdoor play, cycling, walking and healthy eating.  Community Ventures, based in Thorntree, bring local community know-how and experience of engagement in the area, and Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency will train volunteers to support the activities and promote sustainability.

Boro Active Explores will use Forest Schools outdoor learning to offer a unique and exciting way to deliver and complement learning, build social and life skills and get people more active.

Building self-esteem is at the core of the Forest Schools ethos and raising emotional awareness, confidence building, encouraging independence, and providing opportunities for active outdoor play and discovery.

The programme recognises that when working with families, each one will have its own needs and priorities. So initially, family groups will work with the team to identify the kind of activities they would like to explore.  This will be through up to six sessions spread out over several weeks. The sessions will include learning about natural spaces, outdoor cooking, den and shelter building, orienteering and cycle maintenance workshops.

To ensure it continues beyond the initial life of the project, Level 3 Forest School training for up to five people will be provided to ensure they can go on. In addition, volunteer training will take place to ensure outdoor sessions in schools and the local community are kept up. The focus on families will provide them with the skills and knowledge to go on to use the outdoors for play and recreation. Having already been introduced to a range of outdoor activities will allow them to repeat and expand on what they have learned, which will benefit them in the future.

To find out more information about the project, contact Boro Active Explorers on 01642 989254.

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