Education Studies students shine as nature health walk leaders

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IN COLLABOTRATION with Cynefin Green Health Hub in Carmarthen, level 6 students on the Education Studies programmes at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David recently received accredited Health Walk Leader training that allows them to lead walks in the community that will help people get active, boost fitness, support recovery and improve mental and social wellbeing.

The Cynefin Hwb was established in 2022 in Carmarthen and was enabled with a grant from the Carmarthenshire County Council Shared Prosperity Fund. The aim of the Hwb is to promote community mental health and wellbeing opportunities for community groups through access to local green spaces.

Andrew Williams, Project and Engagement Officer for UWTSD at Cynefin said, “Offering this type of opportunity to UWTSD students is at the heart of what Cynefin Green Health Hwb does. In this instance, the fact that our students will themselves go on to educate others is particularly inspiring as what they learn here can be applied directly in their future careers to improve the wellbeing of their students.”

The training was delivered by Coed Lleol, who works in partnership with Cynefin Green Health Hub, and have been delivering free woodland wellbeing programmes across Wales for over 10 years. The Health Walk Leader training not only enhances students’ professional development but also directly contributes to their understanding of well-being in the field of education.

It allowed Education Studies students to learn outside the classroom and link theory to practice. The course taught them how to plan, lead and evaluate nature-based health walks for different groups of people. The students learned about the benefits of nature for physical and mental health, as well as how to manage risks and ensure safety during the walks.

Laura Hutchings, Programme Director for UWTSD’s Education Studies programmes said,“To enrich our students’ learning beyond the classroom, we seize every opportunity to connect theoretical knowledge with practical application. We are very grateful to Cynefin Green Health Hub for offering our students this invaluable learning experience and certification, which will further develop their expertise in the field of education.”

The training was directly linked to a wellbeing in education module, where Education Studies students explored the concepts of wellbeing, resilience and happiness in relation to learning and teaching. The students had the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge in practice by leading a nature health walk for their peers and tutors.

Sue Ainsworth, Lecturer on the Wellbeing in Education module added, “The opportunity to learn a new skill and gain accreditation whilst engaging with the natural environment will have a lasting impact on students and lecturers alike”.

The feedback from the participants was very positive and they reported feeling more relaxed, energised and connected after the walk.

Daniel Ashby, an Education Studies: Primary student said, “I think the nature health walk leader training was a great opportunity for us as education studies students. It helped us to learn more about the benefits of connecting with nature for our mental and physical health, as well as how to facilitate positive outdoor experiences for others.

“I enjoyed this practical session as we practised leading walks and engaging with the natural environment. The staff delivering the training were extremely friendly and knowledgeable, as a result, I feel more confident and motivated to apply these skills in my future career as an educator.”

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