Down to the River


A sense of freedom filled the air, the sounds of children yelping with delight, the roll of laughter and hum of happy chatter.

The value of what we do in a learning environment is often measured in terms of meeting objectives through clearly defined outcomes. Over the course of this project It's My World Trust staff, partner groups, artists and participants have focussed on what these outcomes should be, ways to achieve them and subsequent evaluation.

Our day down at the River Hindwell with a group of children and their families from deprived areas of Birmingham illustrated to us that beyond those hoped-for outcomes there is great value in letting a day just unfold -  for allowing spontaneity to play a part - and allowing participants to explore and engage with the place and creativity in their own way and at their own pace.

If we're looking at specific creative outcomes we are overlooking a profound element of the experience - being in nature - and this for our participants can be an ovewhelming experience, particularly on their first visit. To attempt to direct them down a specific creative path can be difficult given the excitement and wonder they're experiencing.  So this has to be the priority - ensuring participants feel fully immersed in this beautiful, safe and inspiring place. And creativity  - and the desire to be creative - seems naturally to follow in response to the intense feelings the children and adults experience here. We don't want to force things - its important they happen naturally.

We have some wonderful tangable outcomes of course. But  a few hours on a hot summer afternoon spent splashing and playing in the river was an unexpected and unforgetable experience for families who never have such an opportunity in everyday life. A sense of freedom filled the air that day, the sounds of children yelping with delight, the roll of laughter and the hum of happy chatter. 

Girls looking at the days photographs in the Grain Barn later.

Photo credits: Kate Green Photography

Kate Morgan-Clare