Beyond Be-Leaf by Catherine Sleeman of Horsham Youth Eco Forum (first published in West Sussex County Times)

On Wednesday 14th July, Sussex Green Living’s Youth Eco Forum led a day of outdoor activities in an area of ancient woodland near Billingshurst. The event, named Beyond Be-Leaf, hoped to give young people who would not usually have the opportunity to get out in the countryside a chance to get hands-on and creative, learning about the natural world. Youth Eco Forum Member, Flora Burleigh reflected that the best thing about the day was, “simply observing the students as they were immersed in nature, watching them be inspired and actually having the opportunity to pay a closer attention to the woodland environment.”

Year 7 and 8 pupils from Tanbridge House School, Christ’s Hospital School and City of London Academy Southwark spent the day learning about the local wildlife, woodland management, and positive climate solutions. They had the opportunity to explore their connection to nature through creative writing and dance workshops as well as learning woodcraft skills and going on a nature walk. Some of the young attendees had never been to the countryside before and this made the event a particularly exciting and revelatory experience.

The project was awarded an Argus fund grant last year, but months of covid restrictions meant that safely organising the event only became possible this summer. The Youth Eco Forum felt that it was really important that the day still went ahead despite the challenges. The pandemic has meant that the positive mental and physical effects of spending time outside are more needed than ever and, as more and more young people worry about the future of the planet, experiencing and understanding the natural world is equally vital.

The day was very successful, with attendees leaving enthused, and the Youth Eco Forum hope to run the event again in the future. Karen Dock, a member of staff from Tanbridge House School, commented that the children who attended had really benefitted from the day and had asked to come back next year. Given the positive impact that Beyond Be-Leaf had on those involved, the Youth Eco Forum fully intend to run another similar event in the future. They are also hoping to establish an ongoing link with the school groups who attended and to follow up the activities day with further communication and virtual meetings.

Youth Eco Forum meets on Zoom every other Sunday (restarting in September) and we are always here to welcome new members.  If you are interested in becoming involved , simply drop an email to for more details.

Learn about our Beyond Be-Leaf day and the Youth Eco Forum here

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