An enterprising young mum from Blaenau Gwent has set up her own eco-education business helping children with autism to discover Welsh nature, after her son was diagnosed with the condition.
Sarah Morgan, 24, from Abertillery, created ‘Eco-Explore Education’, a life sciences workshop teaching autistic children about the wonders of Welsh nature, following the completion of her degree in Ecology at Cardiff University.
During her third year at university, Sarah found herself trying to balance her dissertation work, while also trying to understand why her son Robbie, 8, was not settling at school. Following investigation Robbie was diagnosed with autism, which explained why he had been struggling to cope with education in a mainstream environment.
Robbie’s diagnosis resulted in Sarah taking a short break from her studies as she struggled to come to terms with her son’s diagnosis and began to re-evaluate things.
Thanks to a shared love of nature, Sarah and Robbie largely spent much of their free time outside exploring the great outdoors. Sarah soon established that when he was outside in nature, Robbie relaxed and communicated at his best.
On her return to university Sarah was so determined to help her son and other children with autism thrive, that she established Eco-Explore Education last September, based on her and Robbie’s passion for ecology.
Eco-Explore Education’s workshop sessions encourage young people with autism to get back to nature and be inquisitive about the natural world around them. Sarah teaches small groups to make bird feeders, identify insect groups, and plant wild flowers, among other tailored eco-centric activities.
Speaking about the development of her business, Sarah said: “Before my son’s diagnosis, I had never experienced autism properly. But I quickly learnt that children with autism will struggle with the structure of mainstream schooling and aren’t always given the opportunity to express themselves.
“I found it very stressful thinking he wouldn’t be able to enjoy learning, because it simply didn’t suit his needs."
“I created Eco-Explore Education to allow autistic children to be free, ask lots of questions and engage with life sciences, something that is so fundamental to our everyday lives.”
Since starting Eco-Explore Education, Sarah has been engaging with Welsh autism charities and local scout groups, running workshops and sharing her love of nature with children and their parents.
She is also in the process of securing funding from Children in Need to offer the sessions free of charge, allowing children of all backgrounds and abilities to get involved.
“People with autism have so many skills to offer employers, but the current employment statistics show that they might not be getting the right opportunities.
My business is still growing at the moment, but if I can help make even a small dent in those figures, I will try. Thankfully I’m receiving great support and encouragement from Big Ideas Wales and The Princes Trust to expand Eco-Explore Education further, so the future is looking bright.”
Want to know more about what it takes to follow in Sarah’s footsteps and start your own business? Take a look at the Big Ideas Wales Routemap to learn about yourself, about business and find the help you need to turn business ideas into a reality.