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      Wednesday 05 Jun 2013

      Lisburn district Scouts were the first children in Northern Ireland to get their hands dirty at a new 'Forest School', thanks to funding from the George Best Belfast City Airport Community Fund.

      The airport has provided the much needed financial support for educational equipment as part of the national Trust's outdoor and Closer to Nature programme at Minnowburn Forest in south Belfast.

      The Scouts experienced first hand activities such as mini-beast hunting and tree measuring during an eco-day.

      Cliona Arthur from George Best Belfast City Airport said:

      "The airport's support of the national Trust's Outdoors and Closer to nature projects at Minnowburn compliments two strategic aims of our Corporate Responsibility Programme, supporting the education of young people and generating environmental awareness.

      "During the National Trust's educational eco days and Bright Eyes outdoors' Forest Schools, children from across Belfast will be able to experience and explore what the outdoors has to offer and to really learn from the woodland.  This is a fantastic opportunity that unfortunately many kids from urban areas of Belfast don't get the chance to experience.

      "What's particularly exciting is that on completion of the day, the scouts will earn their most esteemed Naturalist Badges!"

      Today in the UK, over 7,000 practitioners are trained to deliver Forest Schools and are working with Primary school children to deliver the experience.

      The George Best Belfast City Airport Community Fund has donated almost £100,000 to local projects and groups since it was developed in 2009.

      Basil McCrea MLA, who visited the National Trust site at Minnowburn to see how the airport’s Community Fund was having an impact on outdoor education, said:

      “I’m delighted that the airport’s Community Fund could support a project like this. There are many reported benefits of the participation in regular Forest School sessions, including raised self-esteem, increased social capabilities, improved coordination and a greater feeling of wellbeing.”

      “It’s encouraging to see the excitement in the Scouts faces and also that local businesses such as the airport can incorporate projects like these within their community initiatives.”

      Anna McCoy from Bright Eyes Outdoors said:

      “Forest schools are an inspirational approach to learning. It gives the children the time and the space to really explore and learn from the woodland which is not an opportunity all children have.

      “Working with the children in the woodland is a real privilege as it allows me the chance to help to develop their innate curiosity and creativity and see them develop new skills and confidence.”

      “With the airport’s funding, just some of the activities the kids will enjoy today include pond dipping, mini beast hunt and tree measuring and Forest School activities.”

      The Minnowburn woodlands are nestled in the heart of the Lagan Valley Regional Park.

      For more information on the National Trust’s Outdoors and Closer to Nature programme in Belfast, phone Minnowburn Wardens Office on 02890 647787. 

      To find out more about the Minnowburn Forest School, contact Anna McCoy or visit 

      Community fund supports the National Trust at Minnowburn