Ten schools from Laois have signed up for a new biodiversity programme, Eco Rangers, being run by Bord na Móna.
The primary school programme is aimed at kids who struggle to identify a Puffin but can name all the Pokemon.
Bord na Móna is calling for more schools, more teachers and more school-kids to get involved in Eco Rangers, a primary schools programme which attempts to overcome the growing nature deficit amongst children by re-connecting them with nature in a fun and interactive way.
Speaking at the launch of Eco Rangers for 2018, Sara Byrne, Bord na Móna said: “Unfortunately, more and more we are seeing young kids spending too much time on Ipads and Playstations. All research indicates that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of children.
“Our schools programme, Eco Rangers, aims to address just that, and with over 600 schools signed up across the country, we are calling for more schools to get involved. While the emphasis is on schools to participate, the programme can also be used by the children with their families in their local communities around Ireland. Families can log on to www.ecorangers.ie and take a look at the many eco safaris that have already been uploaded to the site.”
The Eco Rangers programme run by Bord na Móna sets out to reconnect children with nature and learn about biodiversity through a series of educational and fun elements. Teachers are provided with all the tools they need such as teachers’ packs, lesson plans and games.
It enables classes to embark on Eco Safaris, nature walks, where they can map out nature trails, look at and investigate flora and fauna, take photos or draw pictures and document what they see. Children are encouraged to creatively connect with nature, with each school developing their own bespoke nature table.
Sara Byrne continued: “Young kids that learn and play outside get direct experience of weather, the seasons, wildlife, flora and fauna – things that are only possible outdoors – and they get to assess risks, solve problems and develop creativity.
The benefits may seem obvious, but in reality many children don’t get to be outdoors in a natural environment in any regular or meaningful way. Eco Rangers addresses this and is suitable for all primary school classes from junior infants through to sixth class,” she said.