I have always been drawn to work with people in one way or the other and that is probably why I studied Social Science on leaving school. Since then I have spent at least 15 years working creatively with people of all ages and abilities before finding myself here. I began my journey as a creative facilitator through my love of story, puppetry and circus. I was further inspired through The Arts Facilitation course I completed in Crawford Art College. I believed then and now, in the power of the arts as a tool for self transformation. I had the great privilege of championing the work as Youth Arts Coordinator for a Partnership between CDYSB, CityArts and Dublin City Council called Young Urban Arts ( 2007-2011). This role afforded me an opportunity to experience first hand the benefits ongoing participation in the arts has on young people.Some examples of my earlier work can be found on this link. anamspraoi.wordpress.com
So in 2011 with the funding for the arts squeezed I too was feeling like I needed a change.” I need to work with people from the ground up” I kept saying, not realising then that Forest School and Nature Connection work was beckoning. I am now a qualified Forest School Leader. I have since completed a Herbal Apprenticeship with Nikki Darryl in Cork, I am just completing A Contemporary Yoga training course with Marianne Gabriel and have gathered a handful of other helpful tools that can support me in this work.
With our fast paced and screen time culture it is becoming common knowledge that children and adults alike need to spend more time in nature. As well as the direct benefits for our behaviour, stress levels, fitness and well being, nature provides offers us a space to feel our feet on the ground and connect to ourselves and what is around us.
Myself and Peter began working in 2014 with a Parent and Toddler group called Wild Kids in the Quarry in Cork city. Aaron came on board at Inch Hideaways in East Cork for our first Easter Camp shortly after. Since then we have enjoyed all the seasons in beautiful forests and nature spots around the county and I have collaborated with Green Spiral in their home county Galway and abroad. We would love to see Forest school in Ireland,follow suit with Scandanavia, UK and Germany and become available to all children as a compliment to the curriculum as part of mainstream education. Forest school is for children of all ages and background( meaning 0-100yrs). Nature offers us many gifts if we can just take the time to receive them.
Our Programmes include
- Parent and Toddler sessions- The Quarry, Blackrock, Cork
- Sticks and Stones- Monthly events for 6-12 year olds, The Hollies, Enniskeane, Cork
- Family Camping Event – The Hollies
- Family Days- various forests around Cork
- Easter and Summer Camps – Inch Hideaway and The Hollies,
- 6 week programmes delivered in Rockboro National School Cork and the Autism unit of Kilbritan National school .
- Presented work at Eco well Conference 2017
– Niamh is a member of the Green Spiral Journeys collective and offers nature connection as part of week long Family Programmes offered in Spain.
-Niamh is part of a parent led initiative Le Cheile, and has been facilitating forest sessions for 3- 7 year olds since start of 2017 from her home in Timoleague.
New ventures include adult only immersion days and nature connection programme to support the wellbeing of employees and organisations.
What is forest school?
Forest school is an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self esteem through hands on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment.
We believe everyone should have regular, long term access to a woodland or natural environment which provides them with inspirational and challenging outdoor learning opportunities. We offer a learner centered approach, where participants can learn through self directed play and exploration. Participants will be given the opportunity to develop their curiosity, confidence, self-esteem, creativity, empathy, communication skills, knowledge of the natural environment and ability to access risk.
Meet The Team
My love for nature and the outdoors originates from my childhood in Germany, where I was a member of a nature scout group. In my later youth I became leader and facilitator of my local group. My nature fascination led me to become a landscape gardener and tree surgeon which I practice to this day. My love for working with children in the outdoors however was only rekindled in the last few years. I first undertook the FETAC childcare training and started my own ventureLITTLE EXPLORERS
Following this I was involved with the farmyard kindergarten and the homeschooling hub to facilitate outdoor activities. For me it was the forest school leader training however that really brought my skills and nature knowledge onto the right platform and I am glad to be part of MuckyBoots.