Three urban schools will receive fully funded residential trips to Exmoor National Park as part of a new programme by UK National Parks and Forest Holidays that will help connect over 20,000 young people nationally with nature.
Over the next five years, ‘National Parks Futures’ aims to help tackle one of the major barriers to many schools visiting National Parks – the cost of travel.
To launch the new programme, Forest Holiday’s Projects Director, Dan Parish, joined Exmoor National Park staff at the Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning last month, along with 30 students from Yeo Valley Primary School, on their first ever National Park experience. The year-5s enjoyed a day out in the sunshine exploring the high moors to collect minibeasts and rocks for further investigation under the microscope, as well as honing their team-building skills through an orienteering challenge.
Thanks to Forest Holiday’s involvement, the school did not have to pay for travel and they are set to return for a fully funded residential stay later in the year.
Exmoor National Park is one of three of the UK’s 15 National Parks awarded a £5,000 grant this year, along with the Cairngorms and South Downs National Parks. Overall, the scheme will deliver at least 15 flagship education projects, reaching 5,000 young people, as well as covering the travel costs of an estimated 15,000 National Park visits for young people.
The aim is to inspire the next generation to care for and protect our precious National Parks, as well as improving their well-being through time spent in nature.
Sarah Bryan, Chief Executive Officer of Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “We’re delighted that Forest Holidays is supporting our work providing opportunities for young people from a wide range of backgrounds to visit Exmoor, be inspired by, and learn about its amazing landscapes, wildlife and heritage. This funding will enable us to offer a full residential experience at our Pinkery Centre for Outdoor Learning to young people from schools from more urban settings who have not visited before, and we are really looking forward to welcoming them.”
Dan Parish, Projects Director of Forest Holidays, said: “We are incredibly proud to be working with the UK National Parks to help more young people experience and enjoy the UK’s special landscapes. We work in rural communities and understand one of the main barriers for schools is the cost of travel. Through this project we hope to open up opportunities for young people to spend time in nature and experience the benefits of outdoor learning.”
Cat Hawkins, Chair of National Parks Partnerships, said: “Connecting young people with nature takes time, expertise and funding. Forest Holidays’ long-term commitment to ‘National Parks Futures’ will enable thousands of young people to experience learning in amazing natural settings. Forest Holidays share our ambition to improve lives through connecting to nature, and thanks to them, ‘National Parks Futures’ will help to inspire the next generation to love and care for our precious landscapes.”