Registered Charity Number 1181833
Country Days was conceived and set up to support and nurture marginalized, disadvantaged 7 – 11 year-olds in the Bedfordshire area. The aim is to combine learning with fun, whilst building soft skills such as confidence, teamwork and social interaction.
Ann Hadfield developed a Nature Reserve at The Leys Felmersham set in six acres of countryside. 1/3 has been turned into woodland with over 33 native varieties of trees (deciduous, fruit bearing and evergreen). There is a pond with Great Crested Newts, natural pathways and several open field play areas. There are 2 compost toilets and a rain shelter with a natural sedum roof. There are hedges and plants specifically designed to attract bees, birds and insects and let nature flourish. The Nature Reserve will continue to be developed as a resource for Country Days.
The first pilot of 2 x 2 day courses was launched on August 14 - 17th when 40 children were taught by 8 experienced, highly-qualified staff. The programme was centred around 5 core subjects: Science, Nature, Art, Bushcraft and Sport. Activities included: building shelters, making fires & cooking on them, discovering & identifying insects & bugs, collecting, filtering & purifying water, creating & exhibiting a nature inspired art exhibition and cricket, football, rounders and softball.
Undoubtedly the courses were a success. All the children voted to come back again next year and their positive feedback demonstrated the benefits of the courses to each of the children.
We believe that Country Days fulfills a vital need for these children in Bedfordshire. The statistics are staggering; national research shows that just 21% of today’s children regularly play outside, compared with 71% of their parents. The average British child spends less time outdoors than adults in prison. 74% of children spend less than an hour in the fresh air and one child in five doesn't play outside at all.
High-quality outdoor learning experiences are proven to develop reflective and inquisitive thinking along with problem-solving approaches in ‘real’ situations. Children also develop resilience and adaptability in occasionally adverse circumstances it allows them to become more able to identify hazards and risks.
Being outside can reduce a child’s stress levels as well as improving their physical well-being and help them to develop a love, appreciation and respect for nature and all that is living.
Whilst being outside children develop an understanding of how we can look after our environment which is incredibly important. Children will gain higher levels of self-awareness, confidence and self-esteem, leading to more productive collaborative-working and communication skills.
Victoria Hayward, Deputy Head at Sharnbrook Primary School,
Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, MK44 1PF.
Please contact us for further information.
Location for our activities is:-
The Leys Nature Reserve,
Pavenham Road, Felmersham
Beds MK43 7EX
which is just 20 minutes outside of Bedford.