Children are happier, healthier and more creative when they are connected to nature. We always aim to inspire people about Norfolk’s wildlife, but a new project which started this spring hopes to go a little bit further.
‘A Sure Start with Nature’ introduced children to the natural world at the very start of their lives. In partnership with Sure Start Children’s Centres in Great Yarmouth, Thetford and Corpusty, we ran indoor and outdoor nature-focused activities such as monthly interactive sessions and sensory play.
Senior education officer at NWT, Annabel Hill said: “We took the children on a minibeast hunt around the centre grounds, looking under leaves and in long grass. The children had a fantastic time and were amazed at the creatures we found.
“As part of the project we have provided treasure baskets for our youngest explorers, containing natural objects such as acorns, shells and pine cones for them to see, touch and smell. We will also work with new parents to improve their health and well-being by having contact with nature, such as on wildlife walks and visits to nature reserves.”
The centres received a wildlife renovation, with seasonal wildlife sounds such as autumn crunching leaves or spring bird song playing. A sensory tree can be dressed for the season and a natural history table will have items to explore. Outside, the grounds were improved for wildlife with a bug hotel, bird and bat boxes and new areas for wildlife to live.
This was the first project of NWT’s Children And Nature fund. We also received a grant of £7,770 from National Lottery Community Fund and further support from the Norwich branch of White Stuff.
Head of People and Wildlife, David North said: “Research shows that children today have far fewer opportunities than previous generations to explore and discover wildlife and spend much less time outside. We are delighted that it gives us the ability to work with Sure Start Centres which do an excellent job engaging the very young and their families. We hope that nature becomes part of these families’ lives each day, throughout the year.”