Cowley International College students study with lions, tigers and bush dogs

Cowley International College students will be attending lessons with lions, tigers, rhinos, and bush dogs as they learn new ways of improving mental health and wellbeing. 

Year 7 students from the college are taking part in an innovative programme at Knowsley Safari, which connects young adults with wildlife and the outdoors to support mental health. 

For five weeks, a group of 12 students will be swapping a couple of hours of their traditional studies for Safari-based activities, including creating specialist enrichment exercises for the Amur tigers and bush dogs. Often developed by experts at Knowsley Safari, enrichments are creative challenges that stimulate an animal’s behavioural instincts.   

Students will also be provided with behind-the-scenes access at the Safari to learn about the care of animals including lions, wolves and rhinos, and will discover more about natural habitats in an outdoor classroom on Knowsley Safari’s woodland walk. 

Kathrine Manchester, mental health and wellbeing co-ordinator at Cowley International College, said: “Creating new experiences and different learning environments can really benefit student’s mental health and wellbeing. 

“Being able to connect with wildlife and the outdoors completely transports students from their usual day-to-day routines. It leads to opportunities for them to exercise their minds in different ways and can help to restore mindfulness and relieve any anxieties.” 

This is the second group of Cowley International College students that Knowsley Safari has welcomed onto the programme and follows a class of pupils who took part last Autumn. 

Nikki Mallott, head of learning and discovery at Knowsley Safari, said: “The educational and enjoyment benefits of being close to nature and wildlife provides a really unique opportunity to improve mental health. This has inspired a series of innovative programmes that we’ve pioneered in this space in recent years, which are proving increasingly popular with forward-thinking organisations keen to support people’s wellbeing. 

“Cowley’s students really embraced the programme last Autumn and it was so satisfying to see them getting so much out of it. We’re looking forward to working together again with the college and creating more positive experiences for their students.” 

The programme is supported by The Knowsley Safari Foundation. The recently established charity helps fund ‘tool bags’ for the students, which contain useful items for them to take away and keep, to support them with improving mental health and wellbeing outside of the Safari-based sessions.   

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