NATURE ARTS DROP
The bags have been very successful and a ray of brightness in the children’s lives during these dark, autumn days. They have been a wonderful resource for our families.
What is ‘Nature Arts Drop?’
Nature Arts Drop is a unique project designed to support the well-being of vulnerable and disadvantaged children and their families during lockdown and throughout the pandemic by delivering packs of creative nature connection and well-being activities to their homes. Nature Arts Drop is managed by Cambrian Wildwood with support from ‘Arts Drop,’ an arts organisation founded by a mental health and arts consultant. The Nature Arts Drop project was very generously funded by the Moondance Foundation and Wales Coronavirus Resilience Fund administered by Community Foundation Wales.
We’re extremely pleased that Calderdale Council have decided to use government funding aimed at enrichment and food programmes for vulnerable and disadvantaged children during the Easter school holidays to take Nature Arts Drop to 5,300 children. This is a smaller version of the original project, with 10 activity postcards rather than the original 20. However, they will use the original format, including the bags, our postcards and plenty of art materials.
Who received the packs?
The packs were specifically designed for children identified as being at home, at risk and with limited access to the internet. From Tuesday 10th of November 2020, key workers and teachers distributed specialist creative nature activity packs to 600 children and young people who had been identified as the most vulnerable in Cambrian Wildwood’s ‘catchment’ area – North Ceredigion, Powys (Machynlleth, Llanidloes and Newtown areas) and Meirionnydd.
Packs consisted of a tote bag of high-quality art materials (see photos below) and 20 age-appropriate creative activity postcards. Three different packs were developed and distributed for children and young people across a wide age range:
• 80 packs for early years children –up to 5 years old
• 370 packs for children aged between 6 and 11
• 150 packs for young people aged between 12 and 18
Early Years Bag
Primary School Age Bag
Secondary School Age Bag
I had no idea the bags would contain such a wealth of resources. I’d been expecting something on a much less grand scale. The size of the bags and the quality just blew us all away!
The parents loved the bags because everything was provided, they didn’t need to go to the shops to buy anything. Their kids could do all the activities straight away.
Support for Families Co-ordinator, Newtown receiving their bags
I am bowled over by how much is in the bags … The quality of the activity cards and materials is very high…… Also, as a school, we’ve always very much put the emphasis on being outdoors in nature rather than being indoors on screens. So, the nature angle of these activities is a great idea.
Evaluation of the value and impact of Nature Arts Drop
The packs have been positively received across the board. Our partners have all commented on the quality and variety of activities and materials provided, noting their appreciation of a focus on well-being through nature connection.
Ceredigion TAF are using the packs very creatively. For some of their teenagers, a virtual group has been set up co-hosted by Ceredigion TAF, Ceredigion Council’s Youth Team and Cambrian Wildwood. Once a week for 6 weeks the group meet online to do one of the activities together from the pack of activity cards, with another activity from the pack being set for the teenagers to do by themselves (or with their families) outdoors during the week. For their pre-school children, Ceredigion TAF are distributing Nature Arts Drop packs along with vouchers to buy wellies and coats to families facing hardship. TAF began facilitating a virtual group for these families in the new year. The main aim is to encourage parents to take their children out to try the Nature Arts Drop activities, by using the resources in the packs supplemented by story books.
It has been very rewarding to see how different agencies are engaging with and responding to Nature Arts Drop. Cambrian Wildwood have enjoyed building new partnerships with these agencies and schools, with the aim of working with more vulnerable and disadvantaged children and families in the future. The nature activity cards have all been uploaded to the Arts Drop website. All schools in Ceredigion, plus schools in Powys and Meirionnydd and other agencies who support vulnerable and disadvantaged children and their families, have been sent the link to the website for teachers and keyworkers to access and use the activities with all their pupils in their school grounds etc. As the school closures and pandemic continue and reports show that mental health is deteriorating, well-being is of increasing importance for all our children and young people across Wales. Hopefully, Nature Arts Drop will help some of these children now and in the future.
We will be evaluating the project again later this year, focusing on how the children have used the activities, if they have built a stronger relationship with nature and the impact of this on their well-being.
It’s so nice to have something that isn’t on screen. The children have been spending more time on screens during and after lockdown and their levels of anxiety have risen as a result. Children are feeling isolated and don’t know how to articulate this. Thank you so much. We are overwhelmed by the increase in referrals since Covid-19 started. This will really help.