I heard a beautiful sound bite recently that sums up everything our business has been trying to achieve for young people over the years. Go outside and grow inside. As we (hopefully) start to see an easing of restrictions on the horizon and a return to whatever normal will look like in the future – one thing is for sure. We will all appreciate being outside a whole lot more than we did when we took such freedoms for granted.

Outside is safer and healthier

During the months of lockdown; the rumours and conflicting evidence around Covid-19 and the mix of tragedy and hope that emerged, it seemed that the outdoors flourished. Nature never looked so beautiful, the birdsong sounded sweeter, the colours were brighter, and the sky appeared to shake off some of the haze that had so long hovered between it and us. We also learned that outside was a better place for us too. While the social distancing 2-meter rule was applicable everywhere, the science soon revealed that the chances of catching or spreading the virus were mitigated significantly by fresh air and a good wind.

And if you take into account the dramatic reduction in vehicle fumes – what is not to like?

Of course, when the new normal arrives a lot of the above (hopefully not all of it) will slowly revert to the way it was before – but it doesn’t take away the reminders, the lessons and the opportunity for permanent change. Whatever the world put itself through during the first half of 2020 – it has always been safer and healthier to be outside.

What changes can we realistically bring into our new normal?

If you Google ‘outdoor classrooms’ or ‘outdoor lessons’ you get pages and pages of results. And if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that many countries, from the Scandinavian block to Canada, New Zealand and Singapore are making outdoor learning a fundamental part of their curriculum.

There are also examples and facilities in the UK to prove the possibility of the concept and the benefits. No one wanted to start the year the way we did. And who could deny that it has been horrible for a lot of people. I have no doubt the debate over how, why and what happened will rage on for years, even decades. But surely we should take the positives, and the lessons learned and make the future a better place for our children.

We may not be able to stop this sort of thing happening again. But we can – we absolutely can – make sure that we are all healthy enough to deal with whatever happens next. Let’s learn lessons, take advantage of the freedom that we have to live outside and reap the benefits to our physical, mental and national health.