Newtownabbey students highlight benefits of outdoor learning

To mark World Wildlife Day today (Wednesday, March 3), Ulster Wildlife and its Our Bright Future Youth Advocates have launched the #LearnMoreOutdoors campaign.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 2:36 pm

The campaign aims to encourage teachers across Northern Ireland to take their lessons outside of the traditional classroom environment and to spend more time learning in and about nature.

To promote the positive and transformative impact that learning outdoors can have as we progress out of the pandemic, the Ulster Wildlife Youth Advocates have created a series of video resources highlighting the benefits of outdoor learning, methods to overcome commonly perceived barriers and advice for subject-specific curriculum integration.

Belfast High School student and Youth Advocate from Newtownabbey, Ellie Beggs (17) said: “We want to continue raising awareness and education about outdoor learning, highlighting the benefits increased engagement would bring for children, young people and teachers.

Ellie Beggs.

“It is a key way to develop peoples’ care for the environment surrounding us, and enriches a student’s education.”

Final year student and secretary of the United Nations Association at Queen’s, RSPB volunteer and Youth Advocate from Newtownabbey, Dakota Reid added: “We appreciate that lost classroom time is a concern for many parents, teachers and indeed students.

“However, we feel that this is a crucial time to be delivering a message of positivity about outdoor learning.

“In order to reduce the strain on education professionals, we have developed a series of online resources in a simple tutorial style, in an effort to remove any stress and provide a template.”

Dakota Reid.

Dawn Miskelly, Director of Development and Engagement at Ulster Wildlife, explained: “Our Youth Advocates are acting as catalysts for delivering change for their local environment and community; whilst contributing to a greener economy.

“As schools return post-lockdown, it is important to note that outdoor learning would be a significant way of ensuring optimal ventilation and would contribute to an effective Covid-19 recovery strategy.

“We are keen to meet with Education Minister Peter Weir MLA to discuss outdoor learning recommendations for schools but stress that this should not be limited to consideration in the short-term.

“We hope to see an ongoing commitment that will continue to benefit the youth in our society, who have made clear their wishes for increased opportunities.”

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Schools are not a major source of transmission of coronavirus, the Public Health Agency (PHA) have said.

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