RESPONSIBLE young children at a Clacks ELC have been recognised for protecting and improving the natural world around them.

The work of the children at Sunnyside Early Learning Centre (ELC) was highly commended by Education Scotland's Learning for Sustainability Awards.

The young people, aged between two and five, began the journey by taking part in the NHS Natural Health Award.

As part of the initiative, educators developed strategies to support mental health and wellbeing following lockdown by getting closer in touch with nature.

This saw children at the ELC grow their own food, for instance by taking part in the Royal Highland Education Trust's Tasty Tatties competition.

Being able to access outdoor spaces inspired the young people to being investigating the world around them.

Their attention quickly turned to nesting birds and they wondered how they feed through winter.

The excitement blossomed not a variety of learning experiences with the children looking to protect the nest, highlighting the plight of wildlife and encouraging families to protect nature.

Children were keen to make bug hotels, took part in litter picks and encouraged the older generations to make small changes in life to develop a greener approach.

Angie Ross, senior early learning and childcare educator, said: "We are delighted to have the work and learning of our children recognised and highly commended by Education Scotland; it has been a team effort, and really inspired our learners to consider how their actions affect the environment.

"With the world looking to Scotland to lead the way during COP26, we are pleased that our community is doing their part to protect and improve the natural world around us.

"We could all learn a little from our children, who have shown us that even small actions can result in a big change."

Children taking part were also able to grow their own skills, helping one another and demonstrating kindness and sympathy.

Sunnyside ELC is looking to continue and build on the learning through further development of outdoor learning and by promoting wider partnerships with organisations across the community.

Educators said they cannot wait to see how responsible citizenship already developed at a young age will inspire the children in the future.