A wild time with the Wildlife Trust

Daily Echo: Youngsters learning new skills Youngsters learning new skills

REMEMBER netting a tadpole, climbing a tree, picking up worms and building secret dens when you were a child?

Unfortunately generations of children are missing out and growing up without these treasured childhood memories of nature and the great outdoors.

To reverse this trend, Project Wild Thing, the UK’s biggest ever campaign to reconnect children with nature and outdoor play, has been launched by the newly formed ‘Wild Network’, and it encourages the nation’s parents to swap some of their kids’ screen time for wild time.

Swapping 30 minutes of screen time for an extra half an hour of wild time every day would decrease children’s time in front of screens by ten per cent.

This could help increase levels of physical activity, alertness and ultimately improve their well-being.

Screen time New research illustrates the scale of the challenge with only one in five children aged 8 to 12 having a connection with nature. With many more parents becoming concerned about the dominance of screen time in their children’s lives, and growing scientific evidence that a decline in active time is bad news for the health and happiness of our children, we all have a role to play in encouraging youngsters to experience the outdoors.

The outdoors can be a place for fun and imagination, a place for therapeutic stress relief and an inspirational space for learning. It can also be a bit daunting for parents, grandparents and teachers to know where to start their own ‘wild time’ adventure!

The great thing is that the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, as part of the ‘Wild Network’, can help get you started.

Wildlife Watch and Wildlife Tots groups provide opportunities for families to play and learn outdoors and are run by volunteer leaders from the Wildlife Trust with a love of all things nature. There are several groups in Hampshire for children of all ages to get involved and discover nature, from bat detecting to making mud pies, so find your local group details on our website hiwwt.org.uk and start enjoying some ‘wild time’. A range of ‘outdoor resources’ and exciting online downloads such as species spotter guides and games, can be found on the Wildlife Watch website: wildlifewatch.org.uk In Hampshire, the Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves provide a rich environment for education and learning, with sessions led by dedicated and enthusiastic Education Officers and volunteers. The Trust can provide school groups with outdoor learning linked closely to the National Curricu-lum, Forest School experiences that build and foster a special connection between children of all ages with nature. For more information, please visit our website hiwwt.org.uk.

We want parents to give ‘wild time’ a go and be part of the revolution. We think you’ll be amazed.

Dawn Morgan
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

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