SPOTLIGHT: Adventure Centre For Education

COMMUNITY BENEFIT FUNDING: Advancing people’s physical and mental health, wellbeing and safety.

A red-haired boy climbs a colourful climbing wallAdventure Centre for Education (ACE) based in Girvan, creates opportunities for people to participate in adventure sports as well as an apprentice scheme, trainee placements, work experience, volunteering and employment for outdoor activity specialists. ACE is particularly experienced in working with schools, giving young people the opportunity to try new activities, build confidence and communication skills and improve their mental and physical well-being.  Over 1,500 individuals partake each year.

Historically, school parent councils have applied directly to Carrick Futures for funding to take part in ACE outdoor learning projects but the area’s largest primary school, Girvan, had not yet done so, in part due to the high number of pupils and the challenging logistics this poses for multi-year outdoor learning sessions. By focusing on just one school year (P6), and offering health and wellbeing outcomes that broaden the curriculum, ACE designed the programme in partnership with Girvan Primary School.

The total project cost was £10,470 and an award of £8,970 from Carrick Futures enabled ACE to support the project at Girvan Primary School with £1,500 from their own funds.

The Girvan Primary Balance project combined outdoor activities with learning, designed to promote healthy eating and mental wellbeing to help participants gain a better understanding of the impact a healthy diet and outdoor exercise can have on behaviour, concentration and wellbeing. The course included mindfulness, environmental learning, forest bathing, healthy eating, emotional wellbeing, positive friendships circles and community.

60 pupils took part in 21 activity days between January and June 2019. The course was reviewed in August, with 92% of the children stating they would like to do more outdoor activities in and out of school time and 100% saying they continued to use mindfulness practices learnt on the course and found it useful in their everyday life. Following on from the project, many of the participants have also been involved in community and environmental projects such as beach litter picks, tree planting and planting vegetables at school.

Outdoor learning - properly conceived, adequately planned, well taught and effectively followed up - offers opportunities to develop knowledge and skills in ways that add value to experiences in the classroom and make the most out of living in a rural area. The project was a good fit with Carrick Futures’ strategic aim of enabling a diverse and sustainable population mix by offering activities to support children and young families in the area.

One pupil, Jamie, has been involved with ACE through a couple of activities prior to the Girvan Balance programme. He enjoyed his time on previous ACE activities but he came alone without friends. He said, “ACE always make me feel welcome and part of a team.” His mum commented that, “Jamie is a shy boy who lacked confidence prior to coming to ACE.” He was reluctant to try new things.

Jamie was asked what the difference was in completing the programme with the school and he said the biggest highlight is that he got to share outdoor activities with his friends and people that he knew. They got to have experiences and adventures together. This made him feel good and happy.