NATURAL HEALTH AWARD – new lockdown challenge
Over the next few weeks, parents, nurseries, schools and care homes across Forth Valley are being invited to take part in a Natural Health Award, a fun learning programme which has been adapted for use during the Covid-19 restrictions. Designed to support mental wellbeing and resilience and to provide a captivating way to enjoy fresh air and increase physical activity, it sets out a series of challenges suitable for all ages.
The original Award, which was developed by NHS Forth Valley’s Health Promotion Service in partnership with the Scottish Childminding Association, has now been tailored to make sure participants stay safe and observe requirements during lockdown such as physical distancing. Many of the suggestions for working with nature can be carried out both in the home or in the garden.
Free of charge, the activity pack, which is being distributed via email, contains 15 activities in total and certificates will be awarded to everyone who completes each section.
Activities outlined include bug hunts, making fat balls to feed birds, walking 1,000 steps (or 10,000 if you can manage it) and using natural materials such as sticks and small stones to fashion items such as a hedgehog or make a ‘journey stick’ with selected ‘treasures’ attached by string or wool. The stick can then be displayed to friends through social media. There are also hints on planting bulbs and seeds and making decorated pots.
NHS Forth Valley Health Promotion Officer, Elaine Cochrane, explained: “It is important to remember that, although we all have rights to access the countryside, these rights come with responsibilities, even more so during the current lockdown. As it’s important that we all avoid unnecessary travel all the activities for the adapted Natural Health award can take place in your garden or in your local area while you are out for your daily exercise.
“For children facing stressful situations, being with nature, even in the smallest way, can help reduce their anxiety and increase their sense of self-worth.
“Indeed, whatever our age, there is strong evidence that being physically active can help us lead healthier and happier lives.”
One parent who has embraced the programme is Dawn Sewell from Tullibody in Stirlingshire.
She said: “As we have a dog we go out walking every day but I had noticed my son was becoming quite bored with this activity. Using the Natural Health Award changed all that as he was motivated to complete tasks and challenges and he was gaining a sense of purpose. We quickly realised the most simple things could become interesting and educational, from collecting natural materials to do crafts with, to learning more about the wildlife directly around us.
Details of the Natural Health Award have already been shared with children at Killearn Primary School in Stirlingshire. Ali McLean, the school’s Acting Principal Teacher, said: “Primary 5, 6 and 7 at the school are working towards their award in our shared Natural Health Award Google classroom as weekly assignments.
“We are really encouraging our children to aim for this fantastic and achievable award as the tasks are all done outside close to their home. Each class shares their weekly activities with their peers in the class slideshow including photos and descriptions. It has really motivated our children to be outside with their families, taking a closer look and appreciating the nature that surrounds them.
“This is so good for their physical and mental health and they’ve been able to share their discoveries easily in our virtual classroom. We’ve enjoyed being able to see what our kids have been doing, and borrowing some of their ideas ourselves.”
It is hoped that the activity pack will be taken on board by hundreds of people of all ages. Awards will be made by NHS Forth Valley’s Health Promotion Department and will be given for completion of a checklist which accompanies the pack.