Holly Lodge Centre
Granting urban children chance to discover nature at Outdoor Learning Centre
Holly Lodge Centre is an outdoor learning centre in Richmond Park. Here they’ve adapted their beautiful two-acre nature trail to allow children – including those with even the most complex needs – to access the natural world.
In 2017, over 5,600 children – 678 of whom were disabled – attended Holly Lodge Centre natural world workshops. For some it was their very first encounter with nature. Many of the pupils live in high rise flats and attend schools with tarmac outdoor areas. They met tadpoles, newts, stag beetles and even slugs and snails: some had never seen such creatures before.
In 2018, the Axis Foundation granted £4,000 towards the outdoor learning centre to create more workshops and provide additional transport so that more children can attend.
“This donation is so exciting, giving children living in urban areas the opportunity to get outside and discover for themselves fantastic invertebrates, birds and pond creatures.
“We can immediately see the benefit these children get from being in a natural space, they get so excited to even see ants! It is most amazing for children who struggle in the classroom, their teachers are delighted to see them so enthusiastic to learn about wildlife in our beautiful setting.
“It is vital that children have the opportunity to explore and discover nature; even more so for children with disabilities who have least access to the outside world.
“Thanks to the generous donation from the Axis Foundation we were able to deliver 12 free workshops… The feedback from the sessions was overwhelming positive with 100% of the schools scoring each session with 5 out of 5 for the group enjoying the session and for the session meeting their curriculum requirements” – Anna King, Centre Manager
What the teachers said
- “Exciting, engaging tasks….. we loved the pollen games, making a tree, potting plants and the leaves’ hunt. It was perfect, thank you so much”
- “Hands-on pond dipping enthralled our pupils. Very happy with our experiences, we would love a longer day”
- “The children really enjoyed looking for bugs and lifting logs to see what was underneath them”
- “The level of detail in each session was really valuable, the class particularly enjoyed the camouflage”
- “All of it was really good, especially the outdoor activities where the children can get stuck in with nature”