PUPILS from ten schools in the North-East will be working with one of the region’s Wildlife Trusts to access life-enriching opportunities.

Durham Wildlife Trust is one of 14 organisations chosen to deliver a UK wide pilot scheme enabling thousands of school children to participate in high-quality enrichment activities, including outdoor experiences, volunteering, sports, and arts.

The Enrichment Partnerships Pilot is being overseen by the National Citizen Service, and The Duke of Edinburgh Award, on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Education.

The year-long pilot is focusing on marginalised young people in targeted areas of England, with Durham Wildlife Trust commissioned to work with ten Secondary schools in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Dorinda Kealoha, who has been recruited as Enrichment Manager for the project, said: “It’s such an exciting role because it will provide young people with amazing opportunities and experiences.”

Newcastle-born Dorinda has more than 20 years’ experience specialising in wildlife and environmental education. She was Engagement Officer for Durham Wildlife Trust before spending the past 14 months as Programme Manager Environmental Sustainability with South Tyneside Council.

“What I always loved about Durham Wildlife Trust was seeing how it provides opportunities for learning experiences that people may not normally have, and this brilliant project is another example.”

“Sunderland and South Tyneside have some of the most deprived areas in the country and we will be working with underrepresented communities to create learning memories and connections with nature.”

To help overcome financial barriers facing local families, bursaries will be provided for 1,000 young people in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Students, as well as teachers, will be involved in designing the project, giving them a strong voice in the experiences and activities on offer, and how to overcome barriers.

A range of activities and taster sessions are to be organised, and a series of Teacher and student consultation events will be announced soon.

“Sometimes, you don’t know what interests you until you try it, so the aim is to allow young people to have a go at different activities, and then make informed choices,” added Dorinda. “As well as leading to all sorts of qualifications, it also has the potential to open up career routes.”

It is hoped that the pilot could be extended if it proves successful. Emily Routledge, Head of Development and Communications at Durham Wildlife Trust, said: “In the North-East, the number of children living in poverty is far greater than the national average, presenting a significant barrier to accessing enrichment, but we know that access to non-formal learning can improve their academic achievement.

“This scheme offers us the chance to improve the experiences of local young people over the coming year but, if successful, the pilot could lead to lasting change.”

  • For more details about the pilot project contact Dorinda Kealoha on 0191 5843112 or mail@durhamwt.co.uk