Moor, Sea and Play: supporting young people’s mental health outdoors


Event type Live Stream

Live stream via Zoom starting at 15.00 UK time

boy and girl with surfboards

Bookings are closed

Brought to you by the Devon and Cornwall ACAMH Branch this event will focus on how the outdoors can be beneficial for young people’s mental health, hearing from a selection of speakers about how and why outdoor activities can help keep young people healthy and happy. Speakers will tell us about their work on adventurous play, surfing and nature-based education.

Guaranteed fun! As part of the session we want you to ‘get up and get out’ as we offer you the opportunity to undertake your own guided outdoor activity, plus you’ll help to create a list of local outdoor resources across Devon and Cornwall (or similar activities in your own area) to suit a range of budgets and needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the evidence as to why outdoor activities can benefit young people’s mental health
  • Think creatively about how your local resources could be capitalised on to boost mental health
  • Develop knowledge on different ways of working with outdoor space to support children and young people
  • Network and share ideas for outdoor resources across Devon and Cornwall

About the Talks

Professor Helen Dodd, School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading
Adventurous play as a route to decreasing children’s anxiety risk
In this talk I will present evidence regarding factors that are associated with children’s risk for anxiety disorders and then outline how I believe that adventurous play could be used to target a number of these risk factors. The talk will also discuss how play might be beneficial as a route to recovery for children following Covid-19.

Vicki Wren, Nature based education practitioner and PhD student
Nature Based Education: A Practitioner Perspective
In this interactive session I will be encouraging you to ‘get up and get out’.

Joe Taylor, CEO of Wave Project
I’ll be discussing the Wave Project and how we support young people to take part in a healthy lifestyle, linking this to evidence of improvements in mental health.


15.00 – Dr. Abby Russell will welcome you to the event and re-launch of Devon and Cornwall ACAMH branch and introduce the committee members
15.10 – Professor Helen Dodd – Adventurous play as a route to decreasing children’s anxiety risk
15.30 – Vicky Wren will encourage you to ‘get up and get out’ with an outdoor activity
16.05 – Vicky Wren – Nature based education and mental health
16.20 – Joe Taylor Wave Project
16.35 – Panel Q&A with all speakers
17.00 – Networking for Devon and Cornwall attendees

Speaker bios

Professor Helen Dodd
Professor Helen Dodd

I am a Professor of Child Psychology at the University of Reading. My research examines the development of anxiety disorders in children. I am particularly interested in examining cognitive processes associated with anxiety, for example, what children pay attention to and how they respond to uncertainty and ambiguity, and how these processes affect risk for anxiety. My research also considers the role of child temperament and the family environment and the way in which these factors work together to affect children’s risk for anxiety. Bio via University of Reading

Vicky Wren
Vicky Wren

My PhD work focuses on structured nature-based educational programmes where children and young people (0-25yrs), from general and complex needs populations, engage in practical, hands on activity. Before commencing my PhD I worked for 20 + years as an outdoor educator, forest school leader and teacher in primary/secondary education and I am a long standing Trustee for Ruskin Mill Trust, an organisation that implements a land and craft based curriculum with children and young people (7-25yrs) with complex additional needs in 12 settings throughout the UK. I will talk about my research findings from my PhD so far and how these relate to my experience as a practitioner.

Joe Taylor
Joe Taylor

Founder of the national charity The Wave Project. Our mission is to harness the power of community, surfing and the sea to enhance the lives of children and young people.

Dr. Abby Russell
Dr. Abby Russell

As well as being the Chair of the Devon and Cornwall ACAMH Branch Abby is a Lecturer in Child and Adolescent Mental Health based within the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Research Collaboration (ChYMe), that sits within the Child Health group of the College of Medicine and Health. Her research focusses on the causes and consequences of child and adolescent mental health difficulties, and the role that schools play in preventing, identifying and managing mental health difficulties.

Abby is currently conducting a programme of research that aims to explore and ameliorate the impact of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in schools. She is currently carrying out a 5 year NIHR Advanced Fellowship, developing and conducting initial evaluation of a school-based intervention for young people with impairing traits related to ADHD. Abby will be working with children, parents and schools to co-design a toolkit of evidence-based behavioural strategies with extensive patient and public involvement. Abby plans plan to extend this approach to developing evidence-based public health interventions to other mental health problems, such as strategies to help school staff manage young people who self-harm.

Prior to her research career, Abby has worked in learning disability support services, child and adolescent mental health services, and a school for children with special educational needs.