GROW-Wellbeing People

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Duane Chong
Programme Director

Duane has extensive experience of lecturing and managing in early childhood education and care. Duane was Sure Start Programme Manager at one of the first programmes in the UK, and co-ordinated the Children First Forum at NML Liverpool, providing creative opportunities for children and young people. Duane wrote the early years programme for Merseyside's Find Your Talent initiative in 2006.

For ten years he lectured in education and childhood studies across Merseyside and North Wales, during which he collaborated with Natural Resources Wales to provide Forest School training for undergraduate student teachers in North Wales.

 

Duane saw how the natural environment not only provides opportunities to engage in all aspects of the curriculum but enhances social and emotional wellbeing. 

Duane is a Forest School Level 3 qualified practitioner and The Therapeutic Forest CIC Approved Practitioner.

Liz McCreery
Forest School Leader

Liz is a Level 3 Forest School Leader and her passion is to get as many people outside, enjoying the benefits that being in nature brings. She believes fun, learning, friendships and positive experiences should be accessible to all, and is keen to adapt sessions for all ages and abilities. Liz is a recognised Therapeutic Forest Practitioner.

Liz has been a primary school teacher for 26 years, with a B.Ed. Hons degree. She has had a variety of other jobs in education and wildlife settings and has many links with organisations to support the protection and revival of our local habitats and wildlife as well as being involved in growing food projects. Running sessions for outdoor providers has given her a wide experience of gauging and controlling risk, whilst allowing self-discovery and problem solving to develop in participants. 

Liz loves learning new skills and facts, so if you have a skill you’d like to share or an activity you’d like to try in the forest then let her know and she’ll give it a try! 

Angela Samata
Director

Angela has worked in the Arts and Mental health for 15 years, speaking publicly nationally and internationally. With a Masters in Art History and Curating, Angela is a member of Tate Liverpool’s Advisory Board and based at the Walker Art Gallery, led the John Moores Painting Prize until 2015.

 

She has worked with several NHS Trusts including Mersey Care and the Surrey and Borders Partnership as well as helping to create additional Mental Health services such as James’ Place.

 

An advocate for early intervention in health and wellbeing practice, Angela believes that by creating curiosity during a child's early years and the opportunity to explore the natural environment, we can instil good practice for their long-term mental health. 

Angela actively supports the forest school activities whenever she can; taking a lead on developing Grow-Wellbeing's involvement in green social prescribing. 

Dominic Wilkinson 

Director

Dominic is an experienced architect, both in public and private sector, and currently a senior manager in the School of Architecture at LJMU.

As a Director, Dominic advises on feasibility of potential land developments as Grow searches for suitable sites which can support its development and growth.

Andrew Fitzsimons

Director

Andrew is a former primary school teacher of over 30 years in Halewood and has a passion for outdoor learning. He has run after school growing activities and is keen for children to see how nature recycles everything and that we have to treat our planet with the respect it deserves. Making leaf mould by collecting leaves; seeing how the worms create soil in wormeries; identifying the beneficial mini-beasts which help defend plants form pests and disease; growing a range of fruit and vegetables; all give children a good grounding in nature and hopefully generate a lifetime of interest in protecting the environment.

 

Andrew is currently completing his RHS Level 3 in horticulture after passing his Level 2 and is mentoring a number of amateur gardeners into developing their own knowledge and skills as well as taking a more organic approach to protecting their gardens.

As a director, Andrew supports Grow-Wellbeing with the development of the growing agenda, as well as helping out at its community allotment at the Edward Kemp Gardens in Birkenhead Park.

Lisa Bostock

Forest School Leader trainee

Having grown up freely roaming the woodlands around Ince Blundell, it took almost a lifetime for Lisa to come back home to the Forest. Lisa gained an honours degree in Media and Communications, but after a stint travelling and living in Ashrams in India and the Caribbean, she retrained as a Yoga Teacher, teaching hatha yoga, pregnancy yoga and yoga for children in Schools. Lisa also set up Morning Gloryville in Liverpool, a sober early morning family rave incorporating health and wellbeing with live DJ’s, dance, yoga, and massage. 

 

Following the birth of her second daughter in 2016, and an immersion into Forest School life, Lisa observed the positive effects of outdoor free play: a sense of outdoor freedom, risky play and exploration of nature - which led her to undertake Forest School leadership training, and join the team at Grow-Wellbeing.

 

Lisa’s version of nature-connection incorporates the elements of mindfulness, spirituality, and creating magic to incorporate yoga, tuning into the sounds of the woodland, making Earth Art and using the fabric and colours of nature and the changing seasons to create a mandala. 

 

Lisa feels community is such a huge, necessary part of society, especially during these times of a global pandemic, and recognises that the time we spend together outdoors grounding ourselves, chatting round the fire, connecting with nature, are the foundations for supporting ourselves, as much for the children, parents, grandparents or carers attending with them.

Laura Jackson

Forest School Leader trainee

Laura is an experienced Primary school teacher, helping establishing outdoor learning at her former school.

Joining Grow initially as a volunteer, Laura recognises the importance of the outdoor environment can support children's holistic development, and is currently working towards her Forest School L3 Leadership certificate.

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