I have had a strong connection with the outdoors my whole life. Being outside, feeling the raw elements of the British weather on my skin, has always had a positive impact on me both physically and mentally. I have my best thoughts when I am out in the open air and just going outside for a walk, run or sail can dramatically change my mood and my energy.
I was lucky to have been brought up in a family where being outdoors was part of what we did. After school my Mum gave us two choices, be inside and do your homework or go outside and run around. We spent family holidays messing around on the water or walking in the hills so perhaps it is not surprising I turned out this way. I first hand understand how vital outdoor activities are to the physical and mental well-being of any person, especially when they are young.
When I think of childhood it is a lot about running round outside, playing games and getting dirty but for many children in the UK now this could not be further from the truth. In a growing number of areas around the country children are living in overcrowded accommodation with no access to gardens or green space where they can safely play. Home life is limited to being indoors and so their only chance of safe outdoor play time is at school where often facilities and space are limited.
I know all this because I have a sister, Rachael, who is a dedicated and passionate teacher at a primary school whose pupils largely come from homes like this and Fairlight Primary and Nursery School want to change the lives of their pupils for the better.
The Big Playground Adventure Appeal is seeking to raise £67,000 to build an amazing outdoor learning area, complete with adventure trail equipment, outdoor classroom facilities and sheltered areas where children can play and learn throughout the school day. The schools vision is that ‘every individual child achieves’ and the new outdoor area will support that vision by:
- improving outdoor provision for disadvantaged children
- improving the physical fitness and mental well being of all children in their school
- improving learning outcomes in particular for disadvantaged children through outdoor learning opportunities
As Charles Hill my co-skipper in the 3 Peaks Yacht Race and I both greatly understand the link between achievement and outdoor activities we both felt a great affinity towards the Fairlight project and have decided to use our unique race attempt to fund raise for this project.
If you are inspired by our own efforts in chasing down a so-far never attempted endurance challenge then please help the staff and parents of Fairlight School give their pupils a chance to feel just some of what so many of us take for granted – and donate to the appeal through our Just Giving page.
If just putting money into a generic pot is not your thing then Fairlight could also offer the opportunity to buy selected equipment directly or even fund selected areas and would be happy to recognise any donations. If this sounds more your bag then please get in touch with me or the school directly.
Before I sign off let’s just put one thing straight – in case of any misconceptions. Yes, Fairlight School is in Brighton and this is not necessarily an area we may associate with deprivation. But surely we are all aware that every city has many faces, many different districts with a vast disparity of wealth across a relatively small area, if you still need more convincing you can find out more information about the project here.
If like me you want to help give the children of Fairlight a chance to benefit from time spent in a safe outdoor environment then please donate to the appeal.