World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day – whether we have a diagnosis or not (which can be helpful or not), we are all individuals and one response or label does not fit all.

World Autism Awareness Day is a day to celebrate us all

 

World Autism Awareness Day is a day to celebrate us all – especially those that are ‘different’ and find it more difficult to communicate with others in ways we expect or understand.

 

The popular term ‘neurotypical’ is stating that there is a ‘typical’ way that we interact
with others or not. In reality all of us find interaction difficult at times, and can be
supported in so many different ways, once we are understood. At the same time,
individuals can find it really helpful to understand how their ‘neuroatypical’ wiring,
affects their ability to interact with others and how they perceive the world around
them.

At one end of the spectrum, autistic people may have significant learning disabilities
and require 24-hour support in order to lead their lives, while at the other end the
person may be very intelligent and successful in their chosen career but require a
little support and understanding from others in some areas of their life.” (Forest
School and Autism: Micheal James)

Autism spectrum disorder is described as, ‘persistent difficulties with social
communication and social interaction’ and ‘restricted and repetitive patterns of
behaviours, activities or interests’, present since early childhood, to the extent that
these ‘limit and impair everyday functioning’.

The Woodland Project - World Autism Awareness DayOur funded Woodland Project which we run in partnership with CAMHS and CAMHS-LD-FISS offers family days out, parents days and a long-term teenage programme who are diagnosed with many labels. In the woods we are all people who are valued. We know it makes a positive difference to everyone involved and allows us all to achieve more than anyone imagined.

The days encourage families to put their worries to one side, mingle and laugh knowing that their child’s behaviour is not the focus of attention.  They support young people to feel safe, move through difficult feelings, find hope and be okay with who they are.

You can support the future of The Woodland Project by donating here. Thank you.

The majority of ‘autistic’ people present a level of difference in sensory processing
which affects them in their day-to-day lives. A recent workshop I went on gave us
various activities to give us a momentary glimpse into what it may be like to have
sensory processing difficulties. We had to undo and fasten buttons using washing up
gloves – not easy!

Next I walked around some cones looking through binoculars –my balance and sense of place was totally affected. Finally, the bit I enjoyed most was getting inside a stretchy sock, all tight around me. I experienced how safety can be increased by this touch and containment. And why so many young people I work with love getting inside hammocks or tight spaces.

We perceive the world and our place in it using our senses: sense of sight, sense of
hearing, sense of smell, sense of touch, sense of taste, sense of balance, sense of
our physical positioning and the strength of effort our body is exerting. These are not
the only senses – how we sense our internal feelings is also vital, as this lets us
know if we are hungry or sad.

Our bodies are always enabling us to ‘sense’ our world, and it is often through our bodies, in nature that we can learn to regulate and rewire ourselves to facilitate meeting our needs and providing an increase in well-being. Our new book co-authored by Marina Robb and Jon Cree will be published in Spring 2020. This will dedicate a chapter to the bottom up and top down strategies that we can apply in a natural environment – along with much, much more. Sign up to our newsletter to find out more.

The National Autistic Society recently produced a short film called Too Much
Information, which can be found on YouTube. The film shows the experience of
walking through a busy shopping mall from the perspective of an autistic child
experiencing an overload of sensory information. I would recommend taking moment
to watch this film if you have never experienced sensory overload personally.

Greta Thunberg - World Autism Awareness Day

Finally, on World Autism Awareness Day, I want to acknowledge the climate activist Greta Thunberg, who is diagnosed with Autism. Her protests have both called attention to climate policy, as she intended, but it also highlights the political potential of neurological difference.

 

An extract from: The New Yorker. See the full article here.
“I see the world a bit different, from another perspective, I have a special interest.
It’s very common that people on the autism spectrum have a special interest.”
Thunberg developed her special interest in climate change when she was nine years
old and in the third grade. “They were always talking about how we should turn off
lights, save water, not throw out food,” she told me. “I asked why and they explained
about climate change. And I thought this was very strange. If humans could really
change the climate, everyone would be talking about it and people wouldn’t be
talking about anything else. But this wasn’t happening.” Turnberg has an uncanny
ability to concentrate, which she also attributes to her autism. “I can do the same
thing for hours,” she said. Or, as it turns out, for years.

Here I am, sitting in Lewes, East Sussex. It is because of the many people who
have gone before me who acted, and people today, like Greta, that I am glad to be
part of a growing community to come, who values diversity and our uniqueness.

Today, on World Autism Awareness Day, thousands of young people are out on the streets across the world inspired by a young woman with Autism.

Marina Robb, Circle of Life Rediscovery Director

 

By Marina Robb

Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC – Director.

 

Transforming education, health and family through nature.

Circle of Life RediscoveryCircle of Life Rediscovery provides exciting and highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults, and families in Sussex woodlands, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, well being and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

www.circleofliferediscovery.com

info@circleofliferediscovery.com

01273 814226

International Day Of Happiness

On International Day Of Happiness we celebrate….

Celebrating on International Day Of Happiness!

 

A year ago today we launched The Woodland Project campaign to gain valuable funding from The National Lottery. Nine months on, after winning the funds, we are pleased to let you know on International Day Of Happiness, how the Project has been going and what we have achieved!

 

 

What makes us happy…

Since July 2018, the funding has enabled us to run the following days:

  • 13 FISS Family Days
  • 4 CAMHS Family Days
  • 3 Staff Training Days
  • 10 Parent Taster Days
  • 9 Teenage Woodland Days
  • 1 Teenage Woodland Camp
  • 1 Celebration Day

Support The Woodland Project on International Day Of Happiness

 

The Woodland Project in East Sussex offers days out in nature for families who have a child with a severe physical or learning disability, families who have a child experiencing mental health issues and 11-18 year olds who are accessing mental health services. The Woodland Project allows these families to spend quality time together, relax in their natural surroundings, free of distractions and judgement.

 

 

What would make us really happy

The Woodland Project is run by Circle of Life Rediscovery and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. The project is funded solely through donations and external funding. We desperately need continuous funding to support the future of the project! If you are able to donate, please do so by the link below and please share!

“In the woods my son is calm and happy. We look forward to coming to the woods because he can be himself in a safe environment. I can be his parent, rather than just his carer.”

This project is one of the most valuable things we have. I don’t think of it as therapy when I am here, it feels like a family day.  It is difficult to find things we can do with my daughter. Here there are understanding people, who are able to keep her occupied which enables us to have a family day out. Often we are protecting her or others. Here it is relaxing, it’s not about protection and this is really, really rare.” 

“We have never used a service for the whole family before. We don’t get out much, I think this is the longest my son has spent outside in living memory. This is phenomenally good. He is safe and the girls are happily occupied, we haven’t had that kind of freedom before, today has given us a different perspective that it is possible.”

 

Circle of Life Rediscovery

As well as funded programmes, Circle of Life Rediscovery offers unique nature-based experiences across East Sussex. These included bespoke camps for schools, forest school sessions and enrichment days. Plus CPD’s, in-house training and forest school training for adults.

 

Fired Up February! Teenage Woodland Programme Update

February’s session of the Teenage Woodland Programme saw an eclectic mix of handy craft, skills and pizza fired straight from the hand built oven itself.

Making fires at the Teenage Woodland Programme encourages team building and confidence

 

During the day there was the usual building of fires which time after time provides a great sense of teamwork amongst the group and in turn strengthens the relationships between the participants on the teenage woodland programme.

Warmth is such a basic human need and so by working with each other to create that, it becomes even more meaningful.

Pizza oven! - find out more about our woodland site!

 

Of course then made all the more tastier when creating ones own pizza with an impressive variety of toppings for the outdoors, I’m sure I saw some chorizo!

 

Find out more about our woodland site!

 

The pizzas certainly went down a storm and I’m sure they’ll will be back on the woodland menu again (even if I have to champion it myself).

 

 

The Teenage Programme - showing off our skills!

 

There was an abundance of craft and skills happening throughout the day. At one end of the base camp a participant was using aerial silks and showing off her learnt moves – very impressive and a joy to watch.

 

The Teenage Programme - making bird and bat boxesOn the other side of the camp participants were continuing to build their bird and bat boxes which helps to enable the crucial conservation of the wood itself.

A couple of participants also took to creating little leather pouches, just big enough to hold something significant like a grounding stone. I for one still carry my stone and leather pouch, with its drawing of a bear paw with me wherever I go. I made it in 2012 when I was once a CAMHS participant on the woodland days. Sometimes the smallest and simplest of things carry with them such power and almighty strength.

 

Circle of Life Rediscovery - visit our website to find out more about us

 

S’mores, music and discussion sealed the day and what a packed day it was. Yet throughout there was an air of calm and thoughtfulness amongst the group which was interesting.

Not too far off we’ll start to see the beginning changes of nature heading towards Spring. That’s one of the brilliant things about this month by month project is that we began in Autumn and we’ll finish in Summer, so all the changing seasons will be witnessed in our woodland.

 

By Emma Thorne

CAMHS Peer Trainer

Circle of Life Rediscovery

 

Circle of Life Rediscovery has been working alongside young people and CAMHS East Sussex (Discovery College) for 10 years co-developing nature-based days where you can come along and be with other people who listen without judgement.

The course is free and has been designed and delivered with young people who have experienced mental health challenges. The programme will continue to run throughout the year ending in a camp in July! We will co-create a fun, safe and healing time together, have discussions and stories around the fire and rediscover our gifts and how nature can support our well-being.

January’s New Beginnings – The Teenage Programme

Woodland Project Teenage Programme – Windchill & Chocolate Muffins

By Emma Thorne
CAMHS Peer Trainer

Happy New Year and a great big hello to 2018!

Woodland games at the Teenage ProgrammeJanuary saw in the fourth Teenage Programme Woodland Day of the current Woodland Programme and it was certainly a chilly one with a ‘refreshing’ breeze flowing through the camp.

Though despite the cold (which a roaring fire always helps to rectify) we had the weather on our side and were free from the rain – woo hoo! Although wellie boots remain a necessity, of course.

Connection & Friendships

We had a big ol’ group of participants in the teenage programme session this month which was brilliant. It’s particularly special when the same participants keep coming back each month. It really feels now, in our fourth session, that the young people are becoming more connected with one another. Friendships are forming which is heart-warming as a Peer Trainer to see.

Baking chocolate muffins! Part of the Teenage ProgrammeActivities

There were plenty of activities this month to satiate the participants’ bounding energy. Such included baking (think chocolate muffins ft. brownie- the squidge was right on point!), games, a long walk deep in the heart of the woodland and a craft making activity.

The participants began to build various type of bird boxes which coincides with the thinking around conservation of the precious woodland. So whilst we’re all out enjoying our time in the woods, the young people are doing something to give back to the woodland itself.

Fire making

 

 

It all comes full circle. If you look after a space, the space will look after you.

 

 

 

Pizza oven cookies!Food, Stories & Music

Fuelled with sausages and burgers (and cookies made in the pizza oven) participants and team sat around the cosy fire to hear a story from Sheila. Sheila is a woodland volunteer on the teenage programme. It’s one of my favourite moments of the day, to sit calmly with tea in hand, and feel captivated by the often – thought provoking story.

We were then treated to some music from a participant whom had brought his guitar along, which was fab and the young people were soon quick to identify the hit songs being effortlessly strummed out. Inspiration in hand this soon provoked the idea to adlib a song from scratch, guitar playing and all, which I’m sure will one day become a woodland hit!

See you all in February!

Samurai Games

Circle of Life Rediscovery have been working alongside young people and CAMHS East Sussex (Discovery College) for 10 years co-developing nature-based days where you can come along and be with other people who listen without judgement. The teenage programme will continue to run throughout the year ending in a camp in July!

 

Circle of Life RediscoveryCircle of Life Rediscovery is a Community Interest Company that has been working since 2004 to reconnect people from all backgrounds and ages to the natural world. They offer outdoor learning programmes including forest school sessions, forest school training, CPD’s, bespoke curriculum linked outdoor learning days and tailor made residential camps for schools.

Tel: 01273 814226

Email: info@circleofliferediscovery.com

website: www.circleofliferediscovery.com

Teenage Woodland Day, October 2017

Toffee Apples and Mythical Creatures

Our Teenage Woodland Programme

October 23rd saw in the first session of the Teenage Woodland Programme. The new woodland season, which has been kindly funded by The People’s Projects in association with The Big Lottery Fund and ITV, will run from October 2017 to June 2018.

You can read about the full Programme here.

It’s exciting to begin the Teenage Woodland Programme when the woodland is in such a great period of change. The leaves have turned from vivid green to burnt orange, mushrooms and toadstools strewn across the woodland floor and in the air, the smell that Autumn is in full swing.

What we did, unicorns and all!

Toffee apples on the fire! Our Teenage Woodland Programme

It was a jam packed day, for both participants and the woodland team. The rain poured, but it didn’t dampen spirits. It was all happening from fire building, to toffee apple toasting, to wood carving utter knives and mythical creatures – a participant made a fabulous unicorn!

As the rain dripped down from the trees, with participants sat under the dry tarp, we were treated to a story from the newest member of the team, about Norse mythical creatures. Tea in hand, it was a wonderful way to bring the group back together after participants had been tending to their fires and making homemade toffee apples.

New and Old Faces

“I can’t express enough how much relaxing, healing and peace there has been for me today.”

Listen carefully when toasting an apple over a fire, its skin will blacken, but the sound that is produced is best described as though the apple is ‘screaming’. Eerie, but intriguing. I’m looking forward to hearing more tales and stories.

It was great to see so many participants join us on the day, new faces and old. My greatest wish is that everyone who came in October’s session, will join us in November’s session and so on. It’s such a unique project for Discovery College, and one which I believe holds a lot of energy and power.

For a young person who is struggling with their mental health to get out of the house is one thing, but for that young person to develop their skills and knowledge in a place that could soon become a familiar, safe space is another. I’m just so grateful for this funding as it enables us another opportunity to spread the word to young people who are struggling, that the woodland is a wonderful and magical place to be, and in the space that we hold in Vert Community Woods, full of kind and supportive people.

By Emma Thorne
CAMHS Peer Trainer

About the Woodland Programme

The Woodland Programme is aimed at young people aged 13-19 who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

Circle of Life Rediscovery, our woodland site

Circle of Life Rediscovery have been working alongside young people and CAMHS East Sussex (Discovery College) for 10 years co-developing nature-based days where teenagers can come along and be with other people who listen without judgement.

 

The programme will continue to run throughout the year ending in a camp in July. The woodland is a very calming and relaxing space, young people who have been before tell us it is very freeing. 

 

Circle of Life Rediscoverywww.circleofliferediscovery.com

01273 814226

info@circleofliferediscovery.com

Our Teenage Woodland Programme, by Emma Thorne

Grab your wellington boots, gather the kindling, and have those marshmallows toasting at the ready. Why I hear you say? Because the Teenage Woodland Days are back and I for one cannot wait.


At the beginning of 2017 Circle of Life Rediscovery in partnership with East Sussex CAMHS (Discovery College) successfully secured a grant from ITV’s The People’s Projects. This well earnt money will be used to fund the upcoming Teenage Woodland Days, as well CLR/CAMHS-LD/FISS Family days.

As a CAMHS Peer Trainer I feel very excited about the forthcoming project, particularly as I had such close involvement in spreading the word and rallying up the support for it through its stages of public voting. Yes, this Peer Trainer was even featured on ITV Meridian doing just that, although I will confess that the fame has yet to go to my head.

Asides from getting back out into the ever changing mystical woodland, I’m especially looking forward to working with the fantastically enthusiastic young people whom have been previously involved in woodland projects. Their continued energy and passion for being outdoors is wonderful to watch. But one thing that I’m really hoping for is that there will be some new faces on our Teenage Programme. The woodland welcomes all to its beautifully calm space and all you need is an open mind and an invitation to yourself to allow your senses to take in the wonder of nature and its beauty, as it changes throughout the seasons.

The weather is already beginning to change and soon it’ll become more apparent that Autumn is ready and waiting to announce its presence. The leaves will darken and fall to the ground and suddenly the annual childlike desire to crunch all over them underfoot becomes all too irresistible. The changing of the seasons is something that I’m most excited about in relation to the upcoming woodland days. The programme will run from September 2017 through to July 2018. All four seasons will be experienced over that period of time and I’m intrigued to watch how the woodland changes in its entirety.


So, are you between the ages of 13-19 and are experiencing mental health difficulties? Why not try something new, take an exploration into the heart of the woodland or simply unleash your inner Bear Grylls and start learning how to build a fire whilst cooking something delicious on it to enjoy.

Come along and you won’t be disappointed, although I cannot guarantee that you won’t get muddy – see you in the woods!

 

Weekend Dates:
2017
September 16thOctober 23rdNovember 18th,
2018
January 13thFebruary 3rdMarch 3rdApril 6thMay 19thJune 9th, July 7th & 8th.
Celebration Event
May 29th – all families & supporters welcome.

Where:
Mill Wood, Vert Woods Community Woodland, Park Lane, Laughton, Lewes, East Sussex BN8 6BP (map available on request).

Times:
10am – 3.30pm.

Trainers:
Mark Lloyd, Rivkah Cummerson, Luke Funnel, Marina Robb and Emma Thorne.

How to sign up:
To register for a course all you or your supporter (relatives, friends and carers) need to do is:
Phone: 0300 303 8086
Email: sussex.recoverycollege@nhs.net or
Write: to Discovery College, Aldrington House, 35 New Church Road, Hove, BN3 4AG giving the titles of the courses you would like to attend and your address.

A registration from will then be sent to you by post for you to fill in. If you find completing the form is difficult for any reason, please call us to confirm you can attend the first session and come along with your form, so we can support you to complete it. We can do a home visit if you would find that helpful.

If you have any questions about registration please contact Rivkah Cummerson, CAMHS Participation Manager, tel:  07876 037478.

For any questions about the content of the programme please contact Mark Lloyd, Circle of Life Rediscovery, tel: 07961 015307.

 

The Woodland Project needs your help!

Please VOTE for The Woodland Project.

Dear Friends,

We have been waiting for a few months, keeping quiet about something really important to me, our organisation and the families and young people we work with.

voteWe have the incredible opportunity over the next two weeks to secure funding for a year with your help!  We have been shortlisted as one of 5 finalists for the ITV People’s Project  –  this is up to you, the public, to VOTE.   There are so many worthy projects but I want to tell you why we think want you to make a little effort and VOTE FOR THE WOODLAND PROJECT.

About 3 years ago, Tracey Johnson from the Family Intensive Support Service Disability Team visited us in the woods working with families and young people who have mental health issues.  She took a risk and thought that perhaps the families that accessed her service could come out too – with the right support.  And she was right!

Marina

I have spent the last few years being part of a project that blows me away every time.  I can laugh like crazy, feel very moved, appreciate the calm haven that nature offers us all during one family day!  As a parent myself, I am continually heartened by the relationships, love and resilience I witness between the parents and siblings towards their brother or sister – despite the often continual stress and difficulty that this special relationship fosters.  In every day life, the parents are taken to their utmost edge – and mostly find a way back to be the best they can be for their family.   They are ordinary people living with extraordinary situations – where they rarely sleep, are met with fear and judgement in everyday lives, some children are violent and verbally difficult, others make distressing noises.   They cling on their parents for security when they are awake, and the truth is that there children are unlikely to ever be independent or reach many milestones.  I know I would struggle.

woodlandp (2)Yet what they tell us is that this project is fantastic – they can come together as a family and everyone gets something good out of it.  They can lie in a hammock together, they can meet another parent or sibling who gets it – they can have hope that people do manage as their child becomes a teenager.  They can rest a while in nature.  We all create a space that is welcoming and accepting.  And we push the boundaries and try all sorts of things that would be unthinkable inside – sawing, getting messy, making fire, exploring the space in a non-breakable place. Parents talk about the many firsts – that their child has never created an item at school!

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We all have many lives and different experiences.  I want to us all to be a more compassionate society, count our blessings and enjoy the company of people from all walks of life!  This project needs YOUR VOTE to help it continue.  Please take a moment to share the link with your friends and family and watch the VIDEO – and share it!

Voting is now open and closes at noon on Monday 3 April. You can vote once per region and will need an email address to vote online. To support The Woodland Project, please visit the website here and then follow the instructions. You will receive an email to confirm your email address and your vote. If you do not confirm this, your vote will not count! Please check your junk email if you don’t receive it straight away.

Here’s why you need to vote for The Woodland Project!

Thank you all for the support #TheWoodlandProject

Offering support to children with learning disabilities, their families and young people!

Woodland Tales

The Woodland Wanderer Returns…

The woodland wanderer has returned with a brand new blog post.

The last time I wrote for Circle of Life Rediscovery was way back in 2014. Fast forward into 2017 and I am back for more blogging, capturing the involvement and adventures between CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and CLR. Oh, but there’s a twist. When I was last blogging for CLR I was a CAMHS participant on the woodland days, whereas now I’m a Peer Mentor for CAMHS. Meaning, that instead of directly participating, I am now supporting children and young people to take part in the activities involved on the woodland days – because let’s face it, it can sometimes feel a little daunting going out of one’s comfort zone.

wwFebruary last month was the first CAMHS and CLR woodland day of 2017 and the weather was on our side! It was a little grey and hazy but most importantly dry and mild- although wellie boots were still needed! The day was filled with an array of activities from making dream catchers using branches from Willow trees, to going completely above and beyond and baking gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and mini pizzas in a frying pan! I didn’t think it was possible to even bake in the woods, let alone make chocolate chip cookies that tasted like the real deal, if not better.

 

There’s something really down to earth and relaxing about cooking on a campfire in the woodland.

ww2Sitting by the fire, watching whatever it is that you’re cooking sizzle away. No timers to tell you when your food is ready to be devoured, no weighing scales to precisely measure ingredients to bake with, it all comes down to intuition. Not only that, but it’s the young people themselves whom have built their own fires. I think there’s something really special and inclusive about that. It’s getting together, being amongst others who share a deep understanding of mental health and being in an environment that is so unspoilt and forgiving to whatever you may be feeling that day.

There is that saying ‘Sharing is Caring’ which I really think rings true on our woodland days. My perspective has slightly changed since undertaking the role as a Peer mentor, as I’m able to view things from a different viewpoint, as opposed to when I was a CAMHS participant myself. I’m really seeing the way in which young people participate together and provide each other with a helping hand, if one sees another struggling. Helping each other out to achieve the same goal is all about teamwork – it’s brilliant to see first-hand.

ww3It’s the activities that young people participated in during the day, which really brought out this sense of teamwork and working together collectively. Activities including putting up a hammock, helping to build a bird box as well as supporting each other on a practical level when making a dream catcher, which sometimes felt as though it was a little too fiddly to complete. But all the young people worked together and achieved what it was that they came out to do. Of course that is subjective for everyone. Some participants come and experience the woods for the first time, step out their comfort zone and take in whatever the wooded atmosphere has to offer up them. Whereas other participants just need space to sit and just be present for that moment in time, away from the pressures of the outside world.

ww4As I mentioned before, the woodland radiates a presence of understanding. It’s okay if one is having a bad day, but if so, the woodland will equally lift your spirits too.

Participation and teamwork really is the essence behind a CAMHS and CLR woodland day!

ww5

After all the hard work and energy spent from building bird boxes and dream catchers, it was time to reconvene together by the fire and share the magnificent gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. As a Peer Mentor I led this activity, which can feel a little daunting at first but I felt it ran really effectively and so I was equally ecstatic with the outcome (and taste!) of this activity.

ww8The result was best described as a hybrid between a warm cookie and a scone- delightful! I don’t think this will be the last of the woodland baking adventures that you’ll be seeing here…

For now and until the next woodland adventure occurs, I shall sign off here and leave you with the ever growing truth that Spring is on its beautiful way and is only right around the corner!

Em x

Environmental Achievement Award, May 2016

The Woodland Project 

On the 10th May this year we gathered at Winter Gardens in Eastbourne for the 2016 SPARK Awards. The awards provided an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the work of their member groups who are voluntary and community groups working with children and young people in East Sussex.

Sponsored by the South Downs National Park Authority and High Weald AONB Partnership, Circle of Life Rediscovery are really proud to be presented the Senior Environmental Achievement Award for our Woodland Project.

Award - Woodland Project

Receiving the Environmental Achievement Award

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Woodland Project, in partnership with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, enables families with children who have learning disabilities to enjoy a whole day together, to relax and have fun in each other’s company and to explore their capabilities, talents and strengths both as individuals and as a family unit.

Huge thanks to Marian Williams, Rivkah Cummerson and the team at the Sussex NHS Partnership Trust.

Find out more about our Project here:

SUPPORT OUR PROJECT

If you would like to make a donation to support the future of our Woodland Days, please do so here:

Any funds received will help to provide much needed disabled toilets, containers for tools, temporary structures for shelters and enable more Family days.

An Award Winning Woodland Project for Children and Young People with Learning Disabilities and their Families

A Woodland Celebration!

Circle of Life Rediscovery (CLR) and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Learning Disability / Family Intensive Support Service (CAMHSLD/FISS) held a Celebration Day on 31st March to mark the huge success of their three year project.

“We have had a great three years working together supporting families, siblings, parents and grandparents to get outdoors, find peer support, discover new skills, have fun and relax.” Marina Robb, Founder of Circle of Life Rediscovery.

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The Woodlands Project was awarded Silver at the 2015 Sussex Partnership Positive Practice Awards and Highly Commended in the national Innovation in Child, Adolescent and Young People’s Mental Health Award presented by the Positive Practice Collaborative.

 

The Issues

Children and young people with learning disabilities often have fewer opportunities in life and their families find it harder to spend time together as a family, building the kind of memories we all expect to find in our photo albums. Furthermore, families attending our project rarely get out and some have withdrawn into their homes completely. The reasons can be shocking; being asked to get off a bus because their autistic child is anxious and making noises to communicate their distress, or other adults asking parents to remove their child from the play area because they don’t understand the non-verbal communication being used. These daily experiences of prejudice, judgement and sometimes, abuse, make day to day life even more challenging.

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These are the issues CLR and CAMHSLD/FISS decided to tackle in a programme which was specially designed, in partnership with families. The project enables them to enjoy a whole day together, to relax and have fun in each other’s company and to explore their capabilities, talents and strengths both as individuals and as a family unit. Due to the complex needs of the young people attending the activities, a very high level of support is put in place with each family being supported by one staff member from CLR and one from CAMHSLD/FISS.

 

So far 150 people have attended and benefited from this project over the past three years. Learning has happened on all sides. Families have gained woodland skills and can now build and cook on a campfire, some have learnt safe saw and drill use. Families have learnt that they can access the outdoors and that when they do, they feel much calmer and more resilient. Parents and siblings have met other people who share their experiences and found that sharing their stories is deeply supportive.

IMG_5007
We know that there is very little provision for families to stay together as a whole unit when there is a child with a learning disability. Most of the support offered consists of respite which splits the family up and they have told us how limiting this is. We have also learnt that families that are already coping with high levels of distress are subject to daily experiences of rejection and threat in their own communities. And finally, we have seen first-hand, the healing power of getting together with peers in woodland. As one parent said, “the trees are drinking my stresses.”

 

The Project

The Woodland Project aims to make a relaxing, whole family day a reality; stretching young people to learn new skills and discover new talents and supporting parents so they could find peace, and create fun memories of their time together. Typically a day begins with songs around a main fire before tuition in building a cooking fire is given. After lunch, woodland crafts are the order of the day with young people learning how to safely use a saw or drill. Throughout, access to hammocks and swings provides quieter, reflective spaces if children feel over stimulated by the new sensations available to them.

The project seeks to challenge some of the assumptions that limit the experience of young people with learning disabilities. In addition the goal is to equip adults with the necessary skills and key safety knowledge to give them the confidence to make choices to go outdoors independently of the project.

See our wonderful film about our Woodland Project:

Photos from our Woodland Days can be seen here.

Photos from our Celebration Day can be seen here.

Feedback from a parent

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“We had a brilliant day and felt very relaxed. The children loved the woods and the quiet life and thoroughly enjoyed on how to make camp fires and cook on a camp fire. This environment is really perfect and safe for children, who love the outdoors and learning new things. The staff were brilliant and made us feel very welcome and very supportive. Would love to come back again as the day was great and the kids were kept busy from beginning to end.”

 

 

Quote from Clinical Psychologist

“Spending time in a new environment, away from usual routines, provided a space for the family to interact with each other in a different way. As parents have support from staff at the woodland they are able to relax and engage with their children in a way that is not always possible in everyday life. Parents were also able to connect with other parents. This is not usually easy for parents or carers of a child with a learning disability as transport is often arranged to take the child to school, so they do not have the opportunity to meet and talk to other parents.”

“As a clinician the day provided a unique opportunity to get to know the family in a way that is not possible in the course of normal clinical work. It facilitated relationship building with the family as well as providing an opportunity to observe family dynamics in a completely natural, unobtrusive way.”

Feedback from parents:

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“I can’t express enough how much relaxing, healing and peace there has been for me today.”

 

 

20150613_105416 “This is not the kind of place we would normally come to so it has been a nice change. It makes me think we will come back. You forget it doesn’t have to be structured such as a playground. It has been good that we have been outdoors rather than in a play centre or community hall.”


WHY NATURE MATTERS

Nature has an extraordinary way of bringing out the best in people.

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Circle of Life Rediscovery bases all its work around nature. It now has information gathered from over 15 years of why nature matters. The belief that change comes with the right environment to be able to try new things is at the heart of this nature work.

It’s a simple thing to go out into nature, and yet so many people don’t think of it or because they don’t do it often are afraid of it. We use it to support our work and in return we feel nature has exceptional ways of teaching so much that can be used in everyday life.

Find out more about our Funded work here.

SUPPORT OUR PROJECT

If you would like to make a donation to support the future of our Woodland Days, please click here or contact us at info@circleofliferediscovery.com. Any funds received will help to provide much needed disabled toilets, containers for tools and temporary structures for shelters.

Leaky Buckets GIG on 29th and 30th April

The Leaky Buckets are back at Iford Village Hall on 29th and 30th April with a new set of songs to get you on your feet! The evening includes a cash bar, barbeque and a collection to support our Funded Projects. Please come along – we hope to see you there! Entry is FREE but must be pre-booked. Please see details here.

Circle of Life Rediscovery would like to thank to NHS England for supporting us over the last 3 months; to SPARK for their Life More Ordinary Grant support and to all the families, staff and people who helped shape this project.

About Circle of Life Rediscovery
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Circle of Life Rediscovery is a Community Interest Company based in Ringmer, East Sussex that provides funded and bespoke learning with nature experiences and training for young people, adults, families, schools and organisations.

Our team of outdoor Learning specialists are passionate about nature and our aim is to share our knowledge and expertise with the next generation while helping to boost self-esteem, confidence, communication skills as well as physical development.

About Sussex Partnership

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Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust provides NHS mental health, specialist learning disability and substance misuse services across and beyond Sussex.