A NEW initiative to connect families with nature through fun outdoor learning experiences has been launched in one of Hampshire’s national parks.

Inspired by the ‘founding father’ of the National Park movement, John Muir, the South Downs National Park Trust has unveiled the new scheme that will see families across the region getting out into the national park and learning more about the natural environment.

To kickstart the new John Muir Families Outreach programme, a series of starter packs full of outdoor essentials such as maps, walking boots, binoculars, waterproofs, and nature guides, are being purchased.

These will be funded through the newly-launched National Parks Futures Fund, an initiative between National Parks and holiday company Forest Holidays.

The starter packs will be given to selected community centres and children’s centres across the south east as families are encouraged to learn about the environment.

Trevor Beattie, chief executive of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “John Muir was one of the founding fathers of the National Park conservation movement and his legacy lives on today by inspiring people of all ages to get close to nature.

“Our new John Muir Outreach Programme will encourage families to connect with, enjoy, and care for the South Downs, its special landscape and incredible biodiversity.

“We know this funding will make a real difference and allow many more people to benefit.”