By Andrea Schuler
This week, a group of 1st class Gaelscoil Bhaile Munna students from our Park Stewardship programme visited Bull Island on a beautiful, sunny day.

Park Stewardship is our outdoor education programme which develops biodiversity awareness and a connection between young students and nature in a fun and engaging way.

The trip to Bull Island represents a capstone event for the 1st class students taking part in the Dublin City Council funded programme. As a GAP intern that has been with this class for 6 weeks of Park Stewardship adventures, I have first-hand access to the blossoming and deepening relationship between these young students and nature. 

The half-day at Bull Island was full of learning through exploration and play. The students spent a lot of time enthusiastically searching for the rare butterfly species that can be found in the grassy dune habitat. They curiously and cautiously investigated holes in the grassy mounds as potential homes for small animals. They relished in the softness of the sand on the beach, and beamed with pride over their sandcastles decorated with shells and sticks. They exhibited a presence and zest for life that cannot always be facilitated in the classroom. 

These young students are developing compassion, love and a duty of care to nature. It’s a wonderful, hopeful thing to witness.

My experience with the Park Stewardship programme has reinforced what my intuition (and the latest science) knows to be the significance of outdoor education opportunities for all young people. It is not only about cultivating environmental responsibility in the younger generations, it’s also about exposing children to a life-long resource for mental and physical wellbeing – the outdoors.  

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