Grant enables young people to connect with nature

Northumberland National Park Authority has been selected to receive a vital education travel grant which will enable young people from schools and community groups across the region to access and connect with nature.

Thanks to a recent partnership with National Parks UK and EPAM Systems, a leading global provider of digital platform engineering and development services, EPAM Systems has pledged its support for National Parks UK Education Travel Fund to deliver travel grants for young people from across the region to enjoy educational trips to Northumberland National Park.

As part of the partnership, EPAM will support activity in two of England’s most unspoilt and iconic National Parks including Northumberland National Park and South Downs National Park throughout 2021 and 2022.

Rachel Baron, Learning Officer at Northumberland National Park Authority, said: “Everyone should be able to connect with nature, but there are barriers such as funding for travel that mean many schools and community groups miss out on this opportunity.

“We’d like to thank National Parks UK Educational Travel Fund and the new partnership with EPAM Systems for selecting Northumberland National Park Authority as a chosen beneficiary; it will mean more school children will be able to experience our beautiful landscapes and enjoy the many benefits outdoor learning and nature can bring. Children have missed out on the opportunity of school trips in recent months due to learning at home during lockdown. We can’t wait to welcome them to the Park for fun learning experiences which we know will be a much-needed boost to their physical and mental wellbeing.”

The travel grant is being used for Northumberland National Park’s Winter at Walltown educational sessions taking place later this month, allowing five schools, who may not have had the opportunity otherwise, to visit and access the sessions. The sessions are part of the National Park Authority’s recently launched Recovery Curriculum.

David Pringle, Year 3 Teacher at Ringway Primary School, said: “We are very grateful that Northumberland National Park has included free bus travel to Walltown. After living through the restrictions of lockdown, we are delighted that these important opportunities for children to re-engage with the countryside are being made so readily available and affordable.”

Research by Natural England, the government’s advisor for the natural environment in England, revealed that 90 per cent of children report feeling happier and healthier as a result of outdoor learning, and 95 per cent say that outdoor learning makes lessons more enjoyable*.

Shamilka Samarasinha, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at EPAM Systems, said: “Engaging with our extended communities through our education and environment programs has always been a big part of our story at EPAM. We are delighted to partner with National Parks UK Education Travel Fund to help more young people access the great outdoors.

“The next generation has a key role to play in conserving and protecting our environment and we’re excited to welcome this year’s school groups to Northumberland and South Downs National Parks.”