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Case study- Under The Trees - Inspiring Scotland

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Case study- Under The Trees

This case study was created to showcase how an organisation has used Scotland’s Play Ranger Toolkit successfully and how the key learning from the toolkit has been embedded into their day to day services. We sat down with Under the trees to hear more about how they have used the toolkit and some of the successes and challenges along the way.

Under the trees is an outdoor learning charity based in Central Scotland. We specialise in Forest Schools and environmental education for all. Within our activities we offer Play opportunities for young people with additional support needs. Our ASN family play sessions running at a local Country Park, through holidays and at weekends through term time. With ASN play sessions run through the week in local woodland, organised through local school units. 

There is a limited amount of ASN activities available regularly, especially during holidays. Our family sessions allow parents and young people to explore the local area, enjoying free play and meeting other families. 

Can you describe some of the highlights and benefits of using the Play Ranger Model ?

Under the trees run our sessions in local parks and woodland, including a Country Park for our ASN sessions. This has helped introduce accessible areas to families who have never explored them previously, building up an enjoyment of local and natural space. Many of our attendees look forward to the sessions, building up relationships with the staff and making friends within the session. This means we have been able to see the impact on confidence, physical and mental health of regular outdoor sessions allowing parents to relax within the session.  

Why does the play ranger model work for your organisation?  

  • We have been able to provide consistent and regular sessions with experienced well-trained conscientious staff, who tailor the sessions to the needs of each child. This is done using an “about me” set of questions within the booking system.  
  • Our family site is accessible for wheelchairs, is partially enclosed with full access to disabled toilets. 
  • Our staff have built up a good relationship with parents and school staff, which enables us to receive honest and constructive feedback. This has been used to further adapt booking and session activities as sessions have progressed. 
  • Working closely with staff and parents we have been able to provide visuals for the sessions. This allows young people who attend sessions and are non-verbal to have a voice and for young people, who struggle with the unknown, or change to go through the activities for each session.  
  • Staff are experienced with ASN both in a personal and professional level allowing them to, at times adapt sessions for the young people in an instinctive way 
  • We have a walkthrough of the site set up for a session posted on social media available for first time attendees to watch. Photos of staff are available and meetings before sessions are available on request. There is a dedicated Facebook profile for ASN and nurture sessions which is also shared onto our main page, allowing parents to go directly to photos and information on our sessions. 
  • There are photos taken, with consent, during the sessions and shared to social media. This allows families and friends to see what is available and share storied of their experience of sessions. 

What were some of the challenges you faced using the the play ranger model, and how did you mitigate these? 

  • Ensuring that there is a mixture of activities available, so when young people like the same thing there is enough space and alternatives to share within the site.  
  • Misinterpreting the description given during booking, or not fully understanding the needs of the young people without meeting them.  
  • Initially not having ages for each attendee, meaning some of the equipment may not be a suitable size.  

Adapting and changing questions in the booking forms together with adding examples, to assist parents to give as much relevant information as possible helped resolve some of these challenges. Also, if in doubt emailing the parents before the first session has helped reduce these struggles and helps build a relationship with the parents.  We also focused on: 

  • Initially, building a reputation for the quality and suitability of the sessions. 
  • Finding the best places to advertise sessions and reach the families who would benefit most.  

 

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