At BF Adventure we are committed to empowering children and young people to learn differently in the outdoors.
The picture-perfect rurality of Cornwall hides disturbing evidence of ingrained poverty and disadvantage that can have a life-limiting impact on children and young people. At BF Adventure we work with ~ 5,000 children and young people each year, of whom 500 live with multiple disadvantages including poverty and social isolation. Over 200 of this group receive our specialist long term support with learning and/or physical disabilities, behavioural challenges, mental ill health and other issues associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences.
We support children and young people on a Journey of Change through a range of adaptable programmes that are designed to meet their identified needs. We use our outdoor environment, 60 acres of heathland, woodland and flooded quarries, to enable them to identify their own social, emotional and physical barriers, to choose their own challenges and to empower them to overcome these barriers and unlock their potential.
We help young people on their Journey of Change, which sees them identifying their strengths and barriers, exploring ways to overcome challenges, building skills and positive relationships, developing resilience and discovering new passions.
Professionals, families and young people often ask us what it is that we actually do and why it works. We ensure our team are trained to develop their skills in the following:
Our instructors are committed to using a youth work approach within their delivery, building professional, trusting relationships with young people to enable them to explore their values, issues and aspirations and support them to grow, learn and develop to their full potential. Youth work is a distinct informal educative approach, focused on the strengths of young people, and rooted in the young person’s interests.
At BF Adventure we encourage young people to develop new interests by trying new things whilst developing their sense of self and their understanding of others. This in turn helps them to recognise, value and influence their place in society.
Outdoor education and green spaces
“People who use the natural environment for physical activity at least once per week have about half the risk of poor mental health compared with those who do not do so; and each extra weekly use of the natural environment for physical activity reduces the risk of poor mental health by a further 6%.” – Mitchell, 2013
Several studies have linked the benefits of the outdoors to improved health and well-being. It is believed that contact with nature plays a crucial and irreplaceable role in brain development. Simply walking through a natural environment can reduce blood pressure as cortisol levels return to normal and stress levels are reduced. We encourage young people to appreciate the natural environment around them, from sensory journeys and pond dipping to wild swimming, quarrysteering and the zip wire.
Trauma Informed Child Development
“…the quality of the relationships between children and the adults in their lives, along with the children’s levels of emotional wellbeing, will largely determine the outcomes children realise.’ – Children’s Parliament, ‘It’s all about relationships”
Studies like this show that the main difference in promoting positive outcomes for young people who experience an Adverse Childhood Experience is building key relationships with trusted adults. We delegate a key worker to develop a relationship with each child. We ensure that our children have safe boundaries, we listen, both to their spoken needs and those which manifest through their behaviours. We engage with them through positive shared experiences and use a PLACE approach, using attunement and co-regulation to help them feel safe, modelling self-regulation and supporting them to develop this skill. This reduces impacts of toxic stress.
“I have been at BF for the last 10 years and I can honestly say in those 10 years BF Adventure have helped me through difficult times in my life and changed my life for the better. It has taught me skills never in my wildest dreams I would have thought about.”
– James, Volunteer & former Young Person
“For a child like Hetty (diagnosis of ASD, sensory processing difficulties & huge anxieties) BF offers everything she needs, but that a prescriptive education in a school couldn’t. when Hetty comes to BF I see all that fear, doubt and insecurity just fade away…”
– Parent of Young Person
“I cannot speak more highly of this organisation. They provide a vital service which empowers and skills young people who may be highly anxious, severely depressed or traumatised. We have seen young people flourish under BF’s care.”
– Lucy Hayes, Therapist and Manager, CAMHS
These quantitative insights into the progress of those we support are crucial in making sure we’re on the right track. To learn more about how we measure progress, check out our discussions with young people throughout their programme.
We’re seeing fantastic progress with the young people we support, with 100% of parents and referrers telling us that we’ve made a positive difference to their pupil or child. But there’s more work to be done. For some of the young people, BF Adventure is the only source of education or appropriate social contact as they cannot manage other provisions offered. In addition, as young people gain our trust they also seek advice with us about other subjects such as domestic abuse, substance misuse and housing issues. There are many ways that you can help and all support makes a genuine difference and is greatly appreciated.