Scouts has introduced its first new age range for 35 years with the launch of Squirrels – aimed at 4-5 year olds.
200 Squirrel Dreys have opened across the UK following pilots in Northern Ireland over the last two years, with Scouts now seeking more volunteers to get involved and help with the new programme.
Scouts is prioritising communities most affected by the pandemic with the programme aimed at helping this age group catch up and develop key skills like working together, communication, and language, as well as creativity and community awareness.
Like other Scout groups, Squirrels will also earn badges, including Feel Good, Be Active, Explore Outdoors, Brilliant Builder and Exciting Experiments. The emphasis is on being active, and having fun in a positive, safe environment.
To support the roll out of Squirrels, Scouts is now calling for adults, including parents and carers to step forward as part of its #GoodForYou campaign, which aims to recruit over 5,000 new volunteers.
Matt Hyde, Scouts’ CEO, said:
“Squirrels is part of our commitment to help young people, families and communities come back stronger from the pandemic. Our mission is to equip young people with skills for life.
“What we learn up to the age of 5 lays the building blocks for everything that follows. If you’re 4, you’ve spent a third of your life in lockdowns. That’s why we’re opening the first Squirrel Dreys in those communities that need it most.
“But to scale up this new programme, we need support from volunteers, partners, donors and MPs, to help us reach even more young people.”
As well as volunteers, Scouts is also seeking more funding to support Squirrels. By 2023 the organisations wants to:
have reached 12,000 familieswith at least 30% coming from communities in the bottom third of the country in terms of incomeand at least 10% coming families from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgroundwith momentum to reach 130,000 families by 2033
Funders already involved include The Mercer’s Company, Garfield Weston Foundation, the #iwill Fund, and the Peter Cruddas Foundation.