Snowed under with paperwork in an office job, it occurred to Annie Berrington that she needed to get out more. So she left and set up a social enterprise of that name, with a mission to help people engage with nature to feel better in mind and body. She grew playing outdoors in rural North Yorkshire and is passionate about helping people get more out of life through getting outdoors.
Get Out More runs forest schools, outdoor learning and community engagement programmes, helping people of all ages feel the health and wellbeing benefits of connecting with nature. Annie is the Managing Director at Get Out More but also still hands-on with delivery of Get Out More projects. These include a popular programme of holiday forest schools, outdoor learning and staff CPD sessions in schools, community walking programmes and workplace wellbeing sessions with businesses.
Annie trained at Jacob Kramer College of Art and Design followed by a photography degree at Nottingham Trent University. Her career spanned work in art galleries, programme management for Photo 98, the Year of Photography and at Artworks in Bradford, before an opportunity to train as a forest school practitioner presented itself and she realised she belonged working outdoors. Annie brings her creative background to her sessions, making use of seasonally available natural materials for play, learning and personal development.
Working in schools, Annie loves how enthusiastic children are about an outdoor learning day. “Children and nature are natural partners. It’s clear that they respond to the increased space and freedom of the outdoor environment and are inspired by the potential of the resources. A stick is not just a stick, it can be a magic wand, a sword, a horse or a drum stick – the options are limitless. Outside we can get hands-on with physical materials and make the most of the space, which really brings learning to life. We can pretend to be Roman gladiators fighting in the coliseum, sailors discovering a new island or recreate our own Great Fire of London by setting fire to cardboard buildings we have made. I see the children get excited about their topic work and know that they will carry a deeper level of understanding of the emotion and drama of events back into the classroom, which can be expressed through their writing and storytelling”.
Annie believes that every child should have regular opportunities to learn outdoors. “It isn’t just about learning, it impacts on children’s concentration, motivation and social skills too. Overtime, you really see children develop and grow through the creative challenges and co-operative working that outdoor activities provide. Sometimes I meet teachers who are cautious about working outside, because they are worried about behaviour or risk, but they soon see that it brings a new dimension to learning and engages pupils in surprising ways.”