Last night I went to a screening of Project Wild Thing, a film to prod, prompt and inspire us all to get more kids playing freely outside and reconnecting with the natural world around them. As someone who used to be Wilde by name, and often in the wild by nature, I was taken aback to reflect how little time I, and so my children, now spend in nature.
The film looked at the pressures that have lured children to swop wild time for screen time,marketing, the increasing health and safety culture of fear, and literally shrinking amounts of green space, particularly in urban environments. David Bond, the film’s director, and self-appointed marketing director for nature, asks some big thinkers does it matter? A UNICEF study from 2007 placed the UK at the bottom of the child well-being league table among developed countries. More recent research by Ipsos MORI for UNICEF UK has shown that children in the UK feel trapped in a “materialistic culture”. The children in survey reported that things important to their well-being were time and good relationships with family and friends, and a range of activities, particularly outside of the home. The RSPB published a report last month, Connecting with Nature, that found only 21% of children are said to have achieved a level of connection to nature that is ‘realistic and achievable’ for all children. So what can you do?
Watch the film, or at least the trailer, and ask yourself, “How is my relationship with nature?”. You too might be prompted to join the Wild Network, the network of charities and organisations that are working to tackle some of the issues raised in the film. You might be curious enough to take the RSPB’s Connection Measure to see how connected you are to nature.
If like me, you realise you have been neglecting the call of the wild, download the Wild Time app. Depending on how long you have, 10 minutes to half a day, the app will give you and, or your kids, some pointers on what you can do in your window outdoors. For a longer list, check out the National Trust’s outdoor explorer programme, “50 things to do before you are 11 and 3/4”.
Give nature a new home for Christmas with a insect habitat, nest box or tree. Check out your local garden centre, or look at the online shops of the RSPB, or Woodland Trust for some ready made homes, or advice on how you can make your garden more inviting.
Or as it is National Tree Week, (23rd November-1st December), to mark the start of the winter tree planting season, have a look at the Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives site for a tree activity pack, including a brilliant tree identification set and conkers advice!
- Children told to go play outdoors in new nature campaign (theguardian.com)
- Few children ‘connected to nature’ (bbc.co.uk)
- National Trust asks for a kid’s take on open spaces (yha.org.uk)