Science and nature projects inspire visually impaired children at Moorvision

Science and nature projects inspire visually impaired children at Moorvision

Visionary member, Moorvision supports blind and partially sighted children and young people in Devon and have decided to use the themes of science and nature in 2018 for many of their activities. The decision was inspired by Sarah Bell’s (Exeter University) workshop at the last Visionary conference, where she spoke about a project in which visually impaired people talked about their experience of accessing nature at various points throughout their lives.

Moorvision manager, Laura Hughes, wanted to do more work around the subject, as she felt that opportunities to access science and nature were few and far between for children with sight loss.

Following a successful grant funding application to The Nineveh Trust,

Moorvision has rolled out a programme of science and nature themed events throughout the year, including “We The Curious” at Bristol. There has also been a Trip to Occombe Farm in conjunction with The Sensory Trust, where children enjoyed an accessible treasure hunt and were able to feel, smell and hold everything to do with nature.  A trip to “The BIG Sheep” also allowed children to learn about sheering, sheep in general and other farm animals.

Moorvision has more events planned throughout the rest of the year. These include “The World of Country Life” in Devon to explore the heritage of farming and nature in the country, a residential arts weekend with a science and nature theme, a visit to The Eden Project in November and even a science and nature themed Christmas party.

Each event is attended by at least 60 visually impaired people and their families in the South West and they have been hugely impactful.

Understanding science and nature is very important to a child’s development – often taken for granted by sighted people. Making sure visually impaired children did not miss out, Moorvision has ensured they experience a learning environment which they otherwise would not have had access to. They wanted to inspire confidence in children and their families to take part in these activities again, independently of the charity; giving them more opportunity to learn and have fun.

Member top tips

We asked Laura at Moorvision for her top tips for other organisations wanting to undertake such projects in the future. This is what she advises for a successful project:

Meet the family – Include the wider family such as siblings and parents. Give parents an opportunity to meet and befriend each other. Siblings can also get involved and develop their understanding of how a visually impaired child might best learn. Ultimately, if you invite everyone, more families will be inclined to attend.

It’s not all 9-5 – Arranging family activities during the week is not a good idea. Children are at school and parents are at work. For a family event to be a success, it should be at the weekend when more people are able to attend.

Get online – Use social media to advertise your activities. Over half of the bookings for Moorvision events came about as a direct result of its social media presence.

Cheap is cheerful – Try to keep the costs down and subsidise trips if you can. It is OK to do a free event if you want to, but attendance may be poor if people have not pre-booked and paid a deposit. Consider offering further concessions to families with low income.

Listen up – remember to regularly check in with your members/service users about what they want to do. Try to provide services that reflect what they have asked for.

You’re not alone – Wherever possible work in partnership with other organisations. Together is usually better. Every organisation has something unique to bring to the table. If you work together, you will be able to play to your strengths and theirs.