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Ilkley outdoor centre to help district recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic

Children to get “wellbeing in wellies” days at Nell Bank Outdoor Education Centre in Ilkley.

Hundreds of Yorkshire schoolchildren who have suffered during lockdown are to get subsidised visits to an outdoor education centre to help them with their physical and mental recovery.

Research carried out in Bradford has shown that youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by school closures and long periods of isolation - and many have rarely had access to green spaces.

Nell Bank Outdoor Education Centre in Ilkley has today announced that it will offer day visits for just £1 to 2021 pupils in the most disadvantaged areas of Bradford, Keighley and Leeds.

The “Wellbeing in Wellies” campaign is the brainchild of the Nell Bank Charitable Trust, which wants to give youngsters the chance to regain their confidence by exploring the natural environment.

Nell Bank’s Head of Centre, Dan Goodey, said: “We’ve been looking at ways to best support schools post-Lockdown. We believe we are in a really good position to address the issues arising from lack of social contact, physical activity and access to natural green spaces through our outdoor learning programmes.”

The team at Nell Bank was particularly concerned by recent research from the Born in Bradford study, which has been charting the lives of thousands of children in the city for several years now.

Of the 949 Born in Bradford children surveyed during the pandemic, only a quarter said they were sufficiently active during lockdown.

More worryingly, time outside the home was desperately low for some groups. Thirty per cent reported that they frequently did not leave their house or garden. That figure rose to almost forty per cent for children of Pakistani heritage.

Mark Mon-Williams, who is a Professor of Psychology with the Bradford Institute of Health Research, said: “There is overwhelming scientific evidence that outdoor activities are beneficial to children's physical and mental health as well as their education.

The opportunity to experience green open space offered by Nell Bank to children from 'left behind' areas has the potential to transform outcomes for children and young people. Nell Bank has a critical role to play in helping our District recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic on our children and young people.”

Nell Bank will use existing resources from its charitable trust to pay for places at the centre for those most in need. It aims to raise additional money via crowdfunding in order to reach as many children as possible.

Over thirty schools whose children have been most adversely affected by lockdown will benefit over the course of the Summer term.

Children from Bowling Park Primary in Bradford will be the first to benefit from the scheme and will be exploring Nell Bank today.

Headteacher, Matthew Langley said: “Like many children across the UK, repeated lockdowns have been tough for our pupils. Some of our children have missed six months of school, not all of them in the easiest of circumstances.

“Everyone has worked incredibly hard to make sure that learning continues but there are some things you cannot do online, such as play, friendship, exploring and developing new skills and a love of the outdoors. That’s exactly what Nell Bank means for children at Bowling Park and across Bradford.”

Nell Bank was founded in 1977 by Paul Hockney, former Lord Major of Bradford and brother to the artist David Hockney. Run as a partnership between Bradford Council and the Nell Bank Charitable Trust, the Centre continues to promote Paul Hockney’s vision to offer an outdoor experience for children in Bradford from a diverse range of backgrounds.

To support 'Re-Boot - Wellbeing in Wellies' at Nell Bank please visit:


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