Wiston Lodge is to create a new interpretative trail and programme called Path of the Little People which could see youngsters pretending to fight Roman soldiers or loo for fairy gold.
The project, part-funded by BBC Children in Need, will focus on an 855-metre trail offering opportunities for play, learning and engagement in music and art for vulnerable children and young people.
Jonny Sutherland, managing director of Wiston Lodge, said: “We are exceedingly fortunate to have been awarded this generous grant from BBC Children in Need in June 2016.
“The Path of the Little People will be a tremendous resource not only for local young people but for children who visit us.”
Over the next two years, a grant of £80,065 will help to cover the salary of a project co-ordinator and sessional organiser, as well as materials to design the trail.
Designed and constructed with help from the projects’ young beneficiaries, the trail will complement educational programmes on offer at the lodge, south west of Biggar.
Many of the young people the lodge hosts have to contend with learning difficulties, mental and physical challenges, isolation and deprivation.
Children with autistic spectrum disorder and young people leaving school in need of additional support have also been catered for by the lodge in recent years, and the path concept was designed with them in mind.
“It became clear to us over the last few years that we needed to provide a greater range of activities for our young visitors,” said Johnny.
“The Path of the Little People will enable us to do more with these kids, helping them learn and grow while having fun.”
Project co-ordinator Sarah Wyper said: “We are moving forward quickly with the path’s construction.
“We broke ground last week, and shortly after, 40 tons of rock was delivered for the path.
“We are now inviting groups of young people to help us further plan, construct and enjoy the path during the next year.
“We urge individuals to get involved with this exciting, new project.”
Mary Duffy, BBC Children in Need’s manager for Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be funding this project, which promises a high level of involvement for children, who will not only benefit from using it but also from designing and creating it.
“We really look forward to seeing its evolution as construction gets under way.”
There are two phases to the project.
In the first phase, programme participants will help design and build the trail with Wiston Lodge educators.
In its second phase, they will enjoy the trail and all of its station sites.
The Path of the Little People will feature structures, games, learning opportunities and role-playing activities that employ historical, musical, environmental and folklorethemes.
Structures planned for construction by visitors include a crannog, a Viking ship and an outdoor auditorium.
Sarah added: “Whether they are building the path, creating beautiful music on the emperor chimes, re-enacting a battle with Roman soldiers or finding buried fairy gold, I don’t think children will forget their adventures along the Path of the Little People.”