If you go down to the woods today… You’re in for a big surprise…

December 2, 2020

For over 36 years Rowan has been supporting adults with learning disabilities at their fantastic arts centre based at 40 Humberstone Road, Chesterton, Cambridge. They provide a safe, creative, enriching and welcoming environment where the arts are used as a tool to bring people together, reducing loneliness and to tackle social exclusion whilst developing skills and potential, and improving happiness, health and wellbeing.

Rowan believe that people living with a disability should have the same choice, quality of life, opportunities and aspirations as others and are well known for their creative art workshops in woodwork, ceramics, textiles, print, mixed media, drama and music and they are delighted to be starting an exciting new forest school: Rowan Rangers.

Rowan Rangers has recently launched, with support from The Evelyn Trust, following a successful pilot programme in 2019 and as an outside project it is considered safer during the current coronavirus pandemic.

Des Trollip, Operations Director at Rowan, said: “Our successful forest school pilot programme in 2019 highlighted that many of our students have had very little contact with the countryside and nature, and especially not in such a ‘hands on’ way. Many were initially fearful of getting wet / dirty and reluctant to touch or taste anything which was not manufactured and have little or no knowledge of the natural world and countryside around them.

The benefits of Forest schools, and particularly for those with learning disability, have been well documented and include improvements to mental and physical wellbeing, self-awareness, self-confidence, social and communication skills, emotional intelligence, risk awareness, resilience, strength of character, connection with nature and much more.

As adults it is easy to overlook the importance of play and how vital it is for our learning and development. Rowan Rangers, our new Forest school provides a safe ‘play space’ in nature, enabling those involved to blossom and grow within a nurturing social community.”

Russell Cuthbert, Rowans new Forest school leader, said: “Rowan Rangers is a great opportunity for adults with learning disabilities to connect with nature in a meaningful way, gain a deeper understanding of the woodland surroundings, alongside making new friends, learning new skills and most importantly having fun!

Each week we explore something new. We will be taking a closer look at our relationship with the animals and plants we share the woodland with, alongside how we can use the materials nature provides us with responsibly. Activities will include anything from building dens and shelters, learning how to light fires, campfire cooking, storytelling, woodland management, and of course creating some amazing woodland craft and environmental art.

“Everyone is welcome to join us in the woods and I look forward to meeting more new Rowan Rangers soon.”

Rowan are delighted to have recently received a grant of towards the launch of Rowan Rangers from The Evelyn Trust who are a local grant-making charity supporting medical research and health and wellbeing projects in Cambridgeshire.

Rebecca Wood, Charity Director Designate at The Evelyn Trust, said: “We are so pleased to be supporting Rowan Rangers. We loved the concept of local people with learning disabilities developing so many skills, increasing their confidence and resilience, whilst having a wonderful time outdoors. Such a project is needed more than ever in such difficult times when we all need to take care of our physical and mental health.”

This is a very exciting new project for Rowan providing more choice and opportunities for local adults with learning disabilities, to meet and make friends and have fun, and it’s outdoors so considered safer during coronavirus.

Rowan Rangers runs every Friday, 9.30am–3.00pm at Woven wood in Histon and students can choose to attend a six week introductory programme, or to attend every week throughout the year.

If you, or anyone you know would be interested in joining and becoming a Rowan Ranger call 01223 566027 or email abi@rowanhumberstone.co.uk. All students must register with Rowan and book in advance to attend Rowan Rangers.