It's all in the name isn't it? Childrens physical and mental health, and recognising the need to provide support much earlier has never been higher on the social agenda. It is accepted that young people are in need of more support and intervention at a much earlier stage in order to tackle the growing level of stress and pressure being felt at such a young age as a result of a wide range of issues. Children's health and wellbeing can be greatly affected by many wide-ranging issues that a child could be "dealing" with in secret and in silence. There may be problems at home, anxiety, maltreatment, abuse, the effects of poverty, peer pressure, bullying, cyber bullying, social media misuse, a poor diet, social deprivation, all of these or just one of these can lead to detrimental symptoms in young people.
During this Mental Health Awareness Week, society should redouble it's efforts to look at increasing ways to safeguard our children and to tackle these issues much earlier to provide a more supported path into young adulthood and beyond. Our thinking is very much in line with the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom who believe in the power of experiencing new and contrasting environments. The school trip or residential visit has never been more important in terms of providing a possible intervention point and also demonstrating that there are many wonderful and inspiring things in the world that are closer than first thought. Children see the same pictures on TV as adults do, stories of famine, war and terror and the "shouty", intolerant, argumentative example being set by some of the worlds most high profile adults. All of these stories affect young people as they do in us as adults. What we have to promote now to our young people is that there are, in fact, many wonderful things out in the world and some incredible and inspirational things to see and do that make the world a fabulous place to be a part of. We need to offer children the chance to experience something they would never have thought they would be able to do. For some, that might just be experiencing the beauty of the great outdoors or getting close to nature and the peace and quiet.
Outdoor learning is a relatively straight forward way to make a huge difference to childrens lives or at least to be the catalyst to tackling wider issues. Society is starting to realise that experiencing these incredible opportunities should be seen as an entitlement and a right of passage in a child's school career. Providing inspiring opportunities that children can take forward in their life should be for all irrespective of means.
Tackle the issues earlier to ensure that our next generation of adults are able to feel positive and secure within society and to view the world with optimism.