Outdoor Learning Officer Ruth helps Ukrainian children discover Edinburgh’s wildside

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Over the winter months, Ruth has been on a one-day-a-week secondment to the City of Edinburgh Council Sports & Outdoor Learning Unit to support a programme which gives Ukrainian pupils at Trinity and Victoria primary schools a full day of outdoor learning while also exploring a little more of our beautiful city.

Since November these pupils have been cycling, taking walks from the Bangholm Sports Centre in Trinity down to the river, climbing at Alien Rock, lighting fires and toasting marshmallows and creating wonderful environmental art projects on Granton Beach. The children attending the programme are nearly all living on the cruise ship in Leith, so while they’ve a wonderful view of the Firth of Forth from their temporary homes, they don’t have as much opportunity to play and explore outdoors as they might like while living on a ship. These hardy pupils have been out even on the coldest days exploring their local area and beyond. Sometimes it’s the simplest of pleasures that can make them laugh with joy, like breaking ice off the pond at Bangholm and looking at the world through ice windows. Another chilly week in December, they used sticks to break up some of the ice on the river and watched it make its way down Redbraes Weir. It’s child’s play and it’s important.

We’ve also being using this opportunity to show them around the city a little. One snowy but beautiful sunny day we took them up Salisbury Crags where they could see the lay of the city, their ship in the harbour and the land beyond the city. They took photos and selfies and films and behaved like all tourists do on Arthur’s Seat. I couldn’t help thinking of the photos and films being sent back to their homes and families in Ukraine and hoping that the sight of these red-cheeked happy children with a snowy peak behind them would cheer up the families left behind.

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