Evidence of the Development of Resilience
We evaluated the development of resilience in 42 children over four separate programs. Their resilience is broken down into the 7 key areas of Mental and Emotional Wellbeing, Physical Health and Wellbeing, Social Competencies, Talents and Interests, Positive Values, Creativity and Imagination and finally Knowledge and Understanding. Each area is measured with observation of certain indicators. The graph on the left demonstrates that, of the 42 children evaluated after attending Nature Nurture, all have shown marked development in nearly all areas of resilience.
Over the 8 years that the Nature Nurture Project has been running, we have found that approximately 90% of children and young people who attend Nature Nurture show an increase in resilience. Following participation in the project, 60% of children and young people show improved engagement in education and increased school attendance.
Jane’s mother left home when she was a baby and her Dad struggled to give her and her elder brother the care and nurturing they needed. Jane’s Dad has a depressive illness and an alcohol problem. Social workers tried to ensure that Jane and her brother had regular contact with their mother but she was struggling with mental health and dependency problems and was very unreliable. Jane’s mother frequently didn’t turn up for contact, or if she did, she made it clear she was not interested in Jane.
Jane grew up outwardly self sufficient and self dependent. Her Dad often could not respond to her emotional needs, and she quickly learnt not to expect comforting, concern or warm, responsive interactions. She looked after her own physical needs and often needed to look after her Dad too. She was withdrawn and untrusting around all but her closest family. She was often angry and uncooperative. She had a very negative view of herself and her future prospects.
Jane’s behaviour at school was described as very challenging and she was frequently excluded. She had problems making and keeping friends and appeared moody and volatile. She struggled academically because she found it hard to engage with group activity or to concentrate when she worked alone.
Jane expected little from Nature Nurture when she joined but she was immediately impressed by the Nature Nurture dogs and donkeys. Within the first session she was caring for the animals and seeking opportunities to have contact with them. She was withdrawn towards peers and adults but showed great warmth towards the animals.
Jane also enjoyed proving herself as a ‘tomboy’. She wanted to challenge herself physically and enjoyed climbing trees. She was soon running about and enjoying the space and fresh air the sessions offered her and her pale complexion and the dark rings around her eyes gradually disappeared. She became rosy cheeked, bright eyed and was quick to smile and laugh. Jane relaxed in the natural environment and as she relaxed she started to build relationships. Tentatively she started to relate with trust toward the adults in the team, often through the animals. For example she allowed members of the team to teach her how to train the dogs. She felt trusted by the adults too and this boosted her confidence. Then as the weeks went by she started to make friends with some of the other children. By week six she was laughing and playing with other children, always with a dog at her side.
The biggest turning point came when Nature Nurture acquired a puppy and Jane was asked to be responsible for his training. She was so proud that she had been chosen for this important task. The other children respected her skills and she was able to advise and support them when they worked with the animals. She also became an expert climber and often took great pride in teaching the boys how to climb safely.
She then started to develop a deep and lasting friendship with another child in the group who had also experienced rejection from his parents and severe neglect. They talked together, shared stories from their past and comforted each other.
Meanwhile school started to notice a huge change in Jane. She carried herself with greater confidence; she participated more and even took a role in the Christmas play. She became a motivated and enthusiastic learner and started to interact with other children in play and learning activities. Dad noticed that Jane seemed healthier, happier and more positive about life.
Jane’s life circumstances had not changed, but because of the natural environment, relationships and the space to discover her strengths and interests, Nature Nurture had helped Jane become more resilient.
Coming Soon. . .