Their mothers may not like mud anywhere near their clean clothes, but for some youngsters wading knee deep in mud was irresistible. They happily squished in it and got stuck in it and just came short of throwing it at each other. The youngsters were part of a group of scouts and other children who visited the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman and Heritage Garden to take part in nature therapy activities which are part of Nature Seychelles' Greening Livelihoods programme. A group of nearly 50 children and their leaders participated.
Every school holiday, the Seychelles Scouts Association prepares a special programme for children that involves both scouts and children from the community. The programme is designed to get children off the streets during the holidays to come together for five days of learning, fellowship and adventure. This school holiday the programme was on Acquiring Skills for Resilience. It ran from 23rd - 27th August 2012 and was aimed at helping the youngsters face societal pressures such as premature sex and substance abuse, and acquire skills in communication and presentation.
As part of their five-day activities they participated in programmes that use nature therapy on the afternoon of Friday 24. Activities involved helping out in the wetland and garden and taking part in green exercise. They were led by Martin Varley, Robin Hanson and Lucina Denis of Nature Seychelles.
"We were very happy to welcome the children to our nature therapy programme," says Martin Varley who, with Robin and Lucina, is implementing the European Union funded Greening Livelihoods programme. "The scouts activities fit in well with our programmes aimed at using nature to benefit people in the midst of social challenges."
Robin Hanson organised the children into three groups for the activities. Each group had a scout leader assigned to it. To ensure that everyone participated in all the activities planned for the day, each group took half an hour on an activity before moving on to the next.
The first activity had the children stripping bark off Casuarina poles. These are going to be used in the reserve and the garden and stripping off the bark ensures that insects particularly termites do not start eating it. The second activity took place at the Heritage Garden. After giving a tour of the garden, and describing the plants and their uses, Lucina organised for the children to turn over organic compost and to pot seedlings. The last activity was all about fun. For this part, the children exercised in the outdoors using readily available materials such as logs.
So what was the mud about? Towards the end of the activities, Robin discovered a pond full of frog tadpoles that were in the wrong place. He decided to move them to one of the pools in the wetland that had just been dug up. The children happily joined in. Lucky for them, there was rain water to clean up with afterwards. All in all, it was a fun afternoon of learning and valuable work was done.