IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


MP sees work of IOE project that supports children’s wellbeing through art in nature

3 December 2021

Daniel Zeichner, Member of Parliament for Cambridge, has found out more about UCL Institute of Education (IOE) research project Eco-Capabilities in a visit to Shirley Community Primary School, Cambridge.

Children Playing With Dry Leaves. Photo by Michael Morse from Pexels.

The project, led by Professor Nicola Walshe, explores how the wellbeing of children living in areas of high deprivation can be supported through working with artists in familiar outdoor places. The term ‘eco-capabilities’ describes how children define what they feel they need to live a fully human good life through environmental sustainability, social justice and future economic wellbeing.

Daniel Zeichner MP met Professor Walshe, the pupils who took part in the project, the artists they worked with, and representatives from arts and wellbeing charity Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI). They talked extensively about the project and the impact it had on the pupils’ wellbeing and wider learning, and the group shared stories of how their work had contributed to the Forest of Imagination - CCI’s annual celebration of creativity, community and the environment. They ended the event by visiting the nature area of the school grounds, where some of the creative adventuring (or ‘artscaping’) took place, to create a pop-up forest of imagination together.

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Daniel Zeichner MP said: "I was delighted to meet the children of Shirley Community Primary School and see first-hand the awesome potential of nature-based artistic practice on improving the mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people. Early findings of the project indicate very positive results indeed, particularly in relation to connecting children with nature in underserved areas, and Professor Walshe and her team, therefore, deserve the utmost praise for their work.”

Eco-Capabilities: Supporting children’s wellbeing through participatory art in nature is examining how working with artists in nature influences children’s wellbeing and their perceptions of eco-capabilities.

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/S006206/1). It started in December 2019 and will run until August 2022.

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Photo by Michael Morse from Pexels