Emma & MelodyYesterday we paid a visit to Ratho Primary School along with Emma May, who runs the Vegware Community Fund, which has generously supported our schools Canal Adoption programme 2015-16. What a great finale to this year’s programme at Ratho PS, where the Primary 5 children enjoyed five guided outdoor learning sessions on the canal during autumn 2015. The children were thrilled that Emma came along to present their John Muir Award certificates (Discovery level) – which were thoroughly well deserved!

In addition to their sessions with me, the children spent extra time working hard in class and in their local area to earn the award. This included researching canal wildlife (- can you tell the difference between a water vole and a rat?), learning about John Muir and his legacy (and his cracking beard!), and how he observed and enjoyed the natural world. The children found it amazing that Muir even persuaded US President Roosevelt to go “wild” camping with him – a trip that led Roosevelt to set up the world’s first national park – Yellowstone – and gave wider recognition to the value of conserving wild places for the planet and for people.

Taking their role as custodians of their own wonderful local wild space – the Union Canal at Ratho – very seriously, they organised a litterpick on the canal with their local environmental group, and even devised a slogan to remind canal visitors to take home their litter to protect the canal environment and wildlife. And it seems they had lots of fun in the process. They even made a video about their experience of the canal – we can’t wait to see it! So, thank you Primary 5 from all at the Scottish Waterways Trust – we’re very proud of you.

JMA litterpick

In addition to the John Muir Award, the children also received a certificate of achievement for learning about the dos and don’ts of enjoying outdoor spaces responsibly under the Scottish Outdoor Access code, and for their excellent participation in a session on water safety and the use of a rescue throw line. So if you are going to fall in the canal – make sure it’s in Ratho, as the children will know what to do to get you back on dry land! New head teacher Rachel Lytollis also took time to come and congratulate the children on their achievement, but special thanks goes to P5 teachers Heather Tumblety and Gillian Brown for all their help and additional input beyond the canal sessions. Finally, but by no means least, a massive thank you goes to Emma and Vegware for supporting our work to raise awareness of the canal and its value as a resource for community learning and enjoyment.

– Anna Floramedica, Edinburgh Schools Co-ordinator