Play England’s Nature Play Volunteer Coordinator Ingrid Wilkinson shares her highlights from last month’s Natural Childhood Summit.
How do we engage children in nature? This was the thought provoking and opening question at the Natural Childhood Summit. Discussion amongst delegates was evident as each individual shared their experiences and listened intently to what others were presently doing to afford this.
Outnumbered actor Tiger Drew-Honey shared his story of how he used to regularly engage with nature whilst studying for his O levels. Revising in the woods near to his home enabled him to get to one with his surroundings and offered peace at a stressful time in his life. ‘Children have less freedom then free range chickens’, I’m sure naturalist and TV producer Stephen Moss’s short interview captured and put into words the thoughts of many in attendance at the conference.
Alex Hunt and Rebecca Holmes from the National Trust delivered the findings from the ‘Reconnecting Children With Nature‘ report. Highlighting key issues such as the most important barriers to children spending time outdoors which had been identified and included unreasonable health and safety culture, traffic and the rise of indoor entertainment.
Who has a role to play in reconnecting children with nature? We all do! The report highlights the particular role individual and families have, the need for partnership working and collective action within community groups and local and national organisations. Direct action, including speaking up about the importance of nature is required from Leaders and policy makers. Making streets safe for outdoor play, ensuring there is clear guidance and direction from health and safety, incorporating the benefits and necessity to have nature embedded within the National Curriculum and improved access to quality green space by raising awareness with those involved in designing urban spaces.
What did delegates say and ask?
- How can we get the private sector on board?
- No single organisation can do it – we need a joint effort! All sectors need to be involved- we all have a role to play.
- The play sector was making huge strides with play ranger projects when the funding was cut.
- This could be a great opportunity for the private sector to develop an app and merge it with nature.
What are you doing to support Project Wild Thing?
David Bond created laughter and seemed to deepen the passion felt by all following his explanation of his ‘Project Wild Thing’ campaign. Trying to capture the nation and market nature, his inspirational ideas and marketing campaign has already reached out to many. Take the pledge, find the wildest school, recognise the jingle, target new mums, sign up to the manifesto, tweet, Facebook and blog are just some of the initiatives being used to try and change the culture of Britain and get nature play on the agenda and into children’s lives – together let’s all begin to make a difference.
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