Children with disabilities and special needs have a new opportunity to connect with nature, thanks to a generous grant from Hertfordshire Freemasons. The £55,000 grant allowed the Mudlarks community charity to create an enriching Woodland Center for these children to safely explore.
Tucked away on four secluded acres, the Woodland Center is a whimsical hideaway. Running water babbles, diverse trees rustle overhead, and a cozy firepit glows in the glade. Here, the children are free to roam without judgment or harm. Since 2018, Mudlarks has invited special needs school groups to immerse in nature through the seasons.
Shelters are built, fires are made, trails are forged. The children saw wood, cook over the campfire, and create art from natural materials. These experiences facilitate their physical, social, and emotional growth in profound ways. The outdoor freedom calms the children, builds their confidence, and opens their communication.
For many, it’s their first time in woods like these. Their disabilities often prevent access to typical parks and playgrounds. Without judgment, the Woodland Center offers room to roam and breathe. Parents report children returning home happier, less stressed after their woodland adventures.
The grant from Hertfordshire Freemasons allows Mudlarks to hire a full-time leader for the Woodland Center. Now more marginalized children can benefit from immersing in nature’s healing power. As Vic Hobson, CEO of Mudlarks, shared: “We’re thrilled by this generous grant…it allows us to positively impact more disabled young lives through our beautiful Woodland Center.”