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Charitable fund boosts community projects in East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 09:20 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:03 13 February 2019

The outdoor life at Fox Wood Forest School, near Diss  Picture: Contributed

The outdoor life at Fox Wood Forest School, near Diss Picture: Contributed

Archant

Good causes across East Anglia are benefiting from financial support from global insurer Aviva’s community fund.

Wicklewood primary school pupils will soon be engaging with nature thanks to a £5,000 grant from Aviva's community fund  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoWicklewood primary school pupils will soon be engaging with nature thanks to a £5,000 grant from Aviva's community fund Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A south Norfolk group that teaches children as young as two the joy of outdoor adventurous play is celebrating a £1,000 grant from Aviva’s community fund, which supports community projects across East Anglia.

The Fox Wood Forest School, based around Diss, has attracted about 150 local families to the exploration of the natural world through play.

Children from two to 11 take part in exciting activities such as building dens, lighting fires, climbing trees, playing in mud, pond-dipping, using tools, outdoor cooking and more.

Organiser and former teacher Angela Lamb explained: “They have fun, connect with nature and are physically very active. Adults are always on hand to support and enable children to follow their particular interests, so children are given real freedom to direct their own learning.”

Aylsham St Giles Cricket Club is celebrating the award of £1,000 from Aviva’s Community Fund  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoAylsham St Giles Cricket Club is celebrating the award of £1,000 from Aviva’s Community Fund Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

In an age when children are reportedly experiencing stress and anxiety from social media and the internet, Ms Lamb said the natural environment calmed them, improving mental health and wellbeing and increasing their ability to cope with the pressures of life.

Thanking Aviva for the group’s second grant in two years, she added: “Adventurous play helps to boost a child’s confidence, There is an element of risk, but all risk is fully assessed and the children learn so much from it.”

The cash boost will allow the forest school to develop its site near Roydon, enclosing a kitchen area and building a pizza oven.

Another grown-up who values the power of the outdoors to promote well-being is Julia Brooks, headteacher at Wicklewood Primary School and Nursery, where a £5,000 donation from Aviva’s Community Fund will help the children to establish their own haven for wildlife and a stimulating natural environment.

Norwich City FC legend Grant Holt on a recent visit East Coast Emeralds, the Norwich-based community cheerleading club  Picture: AvivaNorwich City FC legend Grant Holt on a recent visit East Coast Emeralds, the Norwich-based community cheerleading club Picture: Aviva

“Now our vision can come to fruition, thanks to Aviva’s donation,” said Miss Brooks.

“The project is designed to be about the children. They will be heavily involved in all the developments, with the focus on outdoor learning which incorporates all of this project.”

Pupils at the 250-strong school and nursery near Wymondham are planning a pond, bird boxes and hedgehog homes and are aiming to enlist the help of local experts Goldcrest Outdoor Education.

Miss Brooks said: “Our improvement and development plan has identified the need to further develop the use of the outside environment to enhance learning, and this whole project will add another dimension to the school, creating an amazing environment of new sights, smells and sounds to delight and stimulate teaching and learning.

“It will provide new experiences and enable the children to learn new life skills and give them the satisfaction of having helped create their new environment themselves.”

Jude Brooks, from the Aviva Community Fund team, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the passion and commitment we have seen from local community groups. We are proud to play our part in supporting the change-makers who work so hard to hard to make a difference in their local area.”

At Aylsham, meanwhile, youngsters at Aylsham St Giles Cricket Club have just had news of a £1,000 from the community fund, which will fund further training for adult coaches and leave a float to buy new equipment.

The club’s Jeremy Cocks said: “Under the guidance of head coach Mike Graver, the club has developed coaching sessions for boys and girls over the last few years, including the England & Wales Cricket Board scheme “All Stars” Cricket, a soft ball cricket skills scheme for five to eight year-olds. Hard ball coaching has also been developed for older juniors.

“These schemes have regularly seen 30-40 youngsters gather at the Recreation Ground on summer evenings over the last few years, and the club intends to expand its offerings this summer.”

At the same time, cheer-leaders at the East Coast Emeralds Club in Norwich are buying new crash mats to help with their tumbling routine following £1,000-worth of help from Aviva and a recent move to new premises in a disused former school gym.

A spokesman said: “We are an all-inclusive club and are able to offer spaces for all from age three up to adult. We operate in an area where we can help families of limited means to be able to participate in a sport.

“Better equipment is a means to carry on the development for every individual in a safe environment, safeguarding the health of the athlete.”

Are you a cause looking for support or want to volunteer in your local community? Get involved and sign up at www.doit.life/volunteering

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