On the morning of Wednesday 16th October, 24 students from St George’s Primary set off for their Play Your Part day at Fort Widley, looking to further develop their skills in confidence, communication, self-awareness and resilience.
Despite the initial rain forecast, the sky cleared up for what was an enjoyable day of community volunteering at the Fort Widley site in Portsmouth. Fort Widley, the grandeur forts built on top of Portsdown hill during the 1860’s, required support with their conservation maintenance, something our eager students were able to provide assistance with.
On arrival we were greeted by Richard Jones, our friendly conservationist for the day, who explained the work Fort Widley needed support with. Richard split us into two groups, each taking turns at the two activities that Friends of Portsdown Hill tasked us with achieving.
The first activity involved raking and composting recently cut tall grass from the wilderness area. As Richard explained, tall grass often forms a thatch that prevents the sun from warming the ground, allowing small hawthorn bushes begin to invade and destroy the local habitat. It is crucial to maintain these grass-areas in order to encourage more species of plants and animals to flourish, something the students were able to support with. Following a short briefing on how best to utilise the tools and equipment provided, everyone got stuck into the conservation activity, and despite it’s arduous nature all the children showed great resilience to get the activity completed!
The second conservation activity the students helped with was the collection of berries for Richard’s seasonal reseeding efforts, again crucial for encouraging the growth of the local habitat. When berry picking, there were four types of berry in particular the students had to collect - Buckthorn and Privet, both small black berries, Hawthorn which was dark red, and Spindle, a bright pink berry. After both groups had collected the berries, we then listened to Richard’s plan to reseed the berries, and were thanked by the Friends of Portsdown Hill team for all our hard work.
Following lunch, we headed back to school.
Back at St Georges, we enjoyed the chance to sit down after the demanding and strenuous activities during the morning session. This gave us time to reflect on the importance of conservation work for the local habitat, and discuss the resilience, confidence, communication and self-awareness students had shown throughout the day.
In particular, we agreed that students had been both extremely resilient for consistently raking and composting despite it being surprisingly exhausting, and great at communicating within their teams when collecting the right kind of berries for reseeding. Following this reflection, students drew posters which they presented in their groups, summarising what they had achieved during the day, with many highlighting the importance of supporting and sustaining green spaces for the local community and the environment.
Thank You to Richard and the Friends of Portsdown Hill team for hosting our Play Your Part Day.
To find out more about how your students could get involved with the Yes Futures Programmes, please contact Sophie, Impact Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org, 07908 687779 or visit our website.
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