Free to be Kids – growing children’s emotional health
“Free to be Kids” projects for lasting positive memories outdoors:
The projects the kids undertake with “Free to be Kids” are designed to give them the opportunity to experience adventure, inclusion, safe challenge and to make lasting positive memories in natural settings. The wider aim of the organisation’s work is to broaden vulnerable young people’s horizons, whilst also helping them to discover more about themselves and helping those with very ingrained negative self-narratives to experience and believe that they can achieve more than they had thought.
The organisation had two unforgettable trips within the beautiful Autumnal New Forest scenery. The kids taking part in those two trips had a five day respite break where they enjoyed:
- learning basic riding and horse care through their very own gymkhana before tackling a long horseback trek through the open countryside
- meeting some owls and hawks and trying their hand at falconry
- an exciting night walk, exploring seashore, sand dunes and forest
- campfires, campfire cooking (popcorn and the obligatory toasted marshmallows!)
- dog walks, chilly stream paddling, treasure hunts and relaxed free time spent outdoors – they even spotted a wild stag!
How many kids took part?
What qualified the kids to be part of the project?
15 young people took part in the projects. The organisation has been working with each of them for at least a year (much longer in some cases) following referrals from their schools, pupil referral units, social workers or other family support agencies. These organisations refer children to “Free to be Kids” due to worries about their self-esteem, confidence, patterns of dealing with frustration/setbacks, challenges at home, and/or their general emotional health.
Grant amount received from the It’s Great Out There Coalition:
“For our young people, most of whom rarely leave their estates in London aside from on our trips, the experience was inspiring, nurturing and horizon broadening and we’re so grateful for your support, which allowed us to fund such quality activities for them.”
Rachel from Free to be Kids
About Free to Be Kids
We believe that all children deserve to experience joy and adventure within their childhood, whatever other difficulties they face.
Many children referred to us grow up facing real hardships – many experience poverty, unstable housing, bullying, the loss of a family member, emerging difficulties with emotional health, or are growing up in families where parents have difficulties with drugs, alcohol, or mental health. As a result many have very limited views of their own potential, and of who they can be in the world.
Our projects, are carefully structured to create opportunities for particularly disadvantaged children to experience feeling brave, adventurous, proud and successful, often for the first time in a long time. Children develop a much richer view of themselves, helping them grow in confidence, increase social skills and believe that they can achieve much more than they had thought.
The majority of our work takes place through our Thrive Outside programme which creates immersive, horizon broadening residential respite projects in outdoor environments, helping children create lasting positive childhood memories. All of our work supports children who are particularly disadvantaged and Thrive Outside is particularly successful at engaging children and families who might not otherwise access more traditional forms of support. For these children, our projects open up a whole new world. Everything we do is aimed to support children to develop their sense of who they are, and in turn to create changes in confidence, resilience and self-belief which help children do better at school, at home, and elsewhere. Schools tell us the impact of Thrive Outside is evidenced by lasting changes in educational engagement, improved emotional health, and real growth in children’s belief in what they can achieve.
Beyond our main Thrive Outside work, we also run a small Flourish Programme focussing on work in and after school, and a developing Young Leaders’ programme, coaching, training and supporting children to return on our projects as young volunteers, directly supporting children facing similar difficulties to their own.