"Eco warrior" teens transform Rotherham playground

A community centre playground has been redeveloped as part of a special project.

Friday, 6th September 2019, 10:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th September 2019, 17:01 pm
The Eastwood Eco Warriors

The Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust Outdoor Learning team have instructed and worked alongside a group of 11-15 year old Roma boys, in Eastwood village, Rotherham, to redevelop the playground at their community centre.

The boys worked hard all summer, shifting and redistributing 10 tonnes of soil, building wildflower beds, making benches, moving large rocks to create a seating area around a fire pit and building £10,000 worth of outdoor play equipment including monkey bars and pull up bars.

Empowered by the sense of responsibility the boys who come from a group considered to struggle in mainstream education, focused on the task, remained motivated throughout, worked hard and delivered what was expected of them.

A staff member at the community centre, described the boys as ‘a credit to their community.’

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Frankie “the hole man”, the eldest of the group at fifteen, received the nickname because of his ability to get stuck in, digging deep holes for equipment without even breaking a sweat.

He said that he enjoyed the project so much that after finishing his last year in college he wants to find an apprenticeship that would allow him to continue to develop the skills he has learned over the summer.

This success story is exactly why the project was developed. Funded by the Careers Enterprise Company and Department for Education, there is a national push to bridge the gap between education and employment in the Roma community.

Chris Smith, senior outdoor learning officer at the wildlife trust, said: “This project has been extremely challenging and rewarding for myself and my team.

“Our bread and butter for outdoor learning is to provide curriculum based learning and trips for local schools, however there is so much more we do and this project is a prime example.

“We like to challenge the expectations of mainstream education and hope that the success of this project and others demonstrates the need for this type of educational intervention to be more widespread.”

The collaborative project, with the Clifton Learning Partnership, grew from another project called Boys Club.

Boys Club, delivered by the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s Natural Neighbours project, was an afterschool club aimed at the same audience, giving 8-13 year old Roma boys in Eastwood village, the skills to become young rangers.

Helping them to become involved with the wider community and with nature and helping them to see the value in their green spaces.