A BARRY chemical plant has thrown open its nature centre doors to Vale teenagers for the first time during the school summer holidays.

Dow Corning staff welcomed more than 20 young people from Penarth Youth Group’s Disability Teen Scheme to experience the 30 acre nature reserve, which sits next the manufacturing site in Barry.

The group took part in pond-dipping and scavenger hunts in a special session run by Dow Corning’s education officer that aimed to help them develop their appreciation for the outdoors and nature.

Penarth Youth Group operates over the summer holidays, offering two days a week for teenagers with disabilities to join them on day trips and other organised activities.

The reserve’s centre has ‘eco-centre’ status and overlooks large fishing ponds and wetlands. It boasts environmental features, including ground source heating, solar panels and rainwater harvesting.

It is available to schools, colleges and community groups who pre-book throughout the year, but has not traditionally run activities during the school summer holidays until this year.

Dow Corning site manager, Brian Austin said: “Our nature and education centre is such a fantastic facility for the whole community. Throughout the year, we run regular activities including science days, maths mentoring and nature experiences for schools and local groups. These have been a huge success and we’re delighted that we can now open the doors for the six weeks of the summer holidays too, to give even more groups the chance to enjoy the reserve and its unique habitats.”

Penarth Youth Group manager, Tracey Downes, said: “We try to organise as many days out for the children as we can over the summer to keep them busy and offer them as many new experiences as we can. We’re so grateful to Dow Corning for giving us such a superb day. You don’t expect to see a reserve like this sitting next to the Dow Corning site. It’s beautiful and the children got to experience lots of new outdoor activities to get them thinking about nature and what is local to them.”

The Education and Nature Centre has been running weekly summer fun sessions for the children of Dow Corning employees, as well as welcoming a local group and charities.

All activities are pre-arranged with Dow Corning in advance.

To find out more about the Education and Nature Centre, call 01446 7323173 or email catherine.lewis@dowcorning.com.