Hundreds of children will have the chance to learn about the natural world – and get muddy – at an urban ‘oasis’ in south London.
The ‘green prescription’ scheme run by the charity Oasisplay allows youngsters from toddlers to teenagers to take part in environmental learning sessions and activities such as pond-dipping, bug-hunting and growing and cooking their own food.
Sessions are centred around the organisation’s nature garden in Stockwell, which allows children to escape the urban jungle, roam free and let their imagination run wild.
The project, expected to benefit around 250 youngsters, is being made possible thanks to a £70,500 grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.
Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee Dhruv Patel said:
“Growing up in a very urban environment means children often don’t have any experience of nature and perhaps don’t have the freedom to roam that people of my generation did when they were young.
“The benefit of this scheme is it allows children a safe place where they can explore the natural world, learn about the environment and enjoy the mental and physical health benefits of getting close to nature.”
The funding will also provide for weekend community sessions for all the family and a series of seasonal events such as spring planting, summer solstice celebrations and winter markets.
Parents and carers – including new mums – also reap the benefits of making new friends, taking part in group activities and getting close to nature.
Joanne Brown, Oasisplay director, said:
“Our activities are very much child-led, giving the kids the chance to choose what they want to do, to build their confidence and social skills and develop a sense of who they are and the world around them.
“It’s a nurturing, open and honest environment where they can go off on their own, take risks and learn to understand and respect nature and be imaginative – the kind of things you can’t really teach in a classroom.
“With older children, sometimes outside they feel like they have to try and be grown up, but when they come to the nature garden they’re in an environment where they can forget about all that and just be kids again.”
More information about Oasisplay is available online.
The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.
Case studies: ‘Coming to the nature garden makes me feel happy’
“Coming to the nature garden makes me feel happy and good because I get to play outside with lots of people.” – Josh, aged 8
“Oasis is fun because you can meet lots of new people, do lots of different fun activities and learn about nature. And lots of fun trips!” – Emmesia, aged 9
“Oasis is very fun. It makes me confident and happy and I get to interact with my friends. I get to play and enjoy myself” – Nabil, aged 10“I don’t feel nervous at Oasis. I feel confident, excited, energetic and happy. I like making play dough and ooblek” – Afrata, aged 7
“Children can work on their gross motor skills by climbing or pushing wheelbarrows, they can also work on their fine motor skills when picking or pouring – all in a fun environment where they don’t realise how much they are learning.” – Kriti, parent
“The format of each of the sessions makes it easy to meet other parents with similar age children. The staff at Oasis are incredible – very approachable, friendly, supportive and knowledgeable about outdoor education.” – Kriti, parent
“Oasis has undoubtedly helped improve my son’s concentration and enthusiasm for getting involved in group activities, learning to share and work together and also trying new things including new foods. When we go out and about I now see a genuine curiosity and love of nature which Oasis helped develop.” – Laura, parent