Four Everton Under-21s players joined Everton in the Community and Everton Free School recently to launch the charity’s latest project - a new Forest School for local primary school children.
Ahead of the charity’s 35th birthday on 1 February 2023, Mackenzie Hunt, Joe Anderson, Mathew Mallon and Jack Barrett headed to Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School in Bootle to officially open a new outdoor education habitat for the pupils.
The event took place last week, prior to Anderson's move to Sunderland.
The players have worked alongside Holy Spirit pupils and students from Everton Free School for a number of weeks, taking part in gardening and restoration activities to help clear the space and make the environment safe for the pupils to use, explore and learn in.
As the first of four Forest Schools in Everton in the Community’s partner primary schools across Liverpool, the project aims to provide safe outdoor spaces for children to take part in education outside of the classroom and in a natural environment – allowing them to enjoy new experiences and learn additional skills whilst supporting the development of a lifelong relationship with nature. The project is funded by the Steve Rotheram Community Environment Fund
The pupils’ learning is hands-on and interactive, and focuses on four different elements: fire safety; habitat building for wildlife and insects' preservation; potting and planting; and den and shelter building. The elements provide the children with the opportunity to develop confidence, social skills and communication adeptness.
Alice Flynn, Enrichment Coordinator at Everton in the Community, said: “This project has been brought to life thanks to the help of our Under-21s players and students at Everton Free School, who have all worked extremely hard over the past few weeks to help get the site ready for today’s launch.
“This is a really exciting new project for us and will allow these pupils to learn, explore, take risks and develop their independence and social skills in an alternative, natural setting whilst also contributing to the preservation of our local environment. They’re helping existing natural spaces to be restored and enhanced, allowing for the planting of more trees, and increasing the protection of wildlife in the local area.
“Learning outdoors can also promote positive mental health and wellbeing and can be one of the most memorable and motivating experiences of a child's school career.
“We’ve also been teaching the pupils about the importance of sustainability, and a lot of our supplies for this habitat have been sourced from surplus materials on other Everton in the Community projects, such as the People’s Place build.
“We’re really proud to see the results of the young people’s joint efforts today and we can’t wait to roll out the project across our other partner schools in the near future.”
The Forest School initiative is the latest of more than 50 programmes run by Everton in the Community throughout the local area, where the charity has been a constant presence for 35 years – supporting those most in need in Liverpool and beyond since 1988.
Thanks to the scope and impact of its programme offering, Everton in the Community’s Social Value figure has recently doubled – meaning for every £1 invested into the charity, £29.86 of social value is generated for the local area.
Click here to donate to Everton in the Community and help the charity continue making a difference.