Project Wild Thing

9,718 Wild Things

It's time to re-wild our children

The UK’s biggest ever campaign to reconnect children with nature and outdoor play is being launched tomorrow by the newly formed Wild Network, as it encourages the nation’s parents to swap some of their kids’ screen time for wild time [1].

Swapping thirty 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 [2]. This could help increase levels of physical activity, alertness and ultimately improve their well-being [3].

This new campaign is being launched on the back of an important and compelling new documentary film, ‘Project Wild Thing’, which is being shown at over fifty cinemas across the UK from the 25 October [4].

Three years in the making, ‘Project Wild Thing’ takes a funny and moving look at one of the most complex issues of the age – the increasingly fragile link between children and nature.

In a bid to get his daughter and son off the sofa and outdoors, filmmaker and father David Bond appoints himself as the Marketing Director for Nature. He wants his brand – nature – to stand out from the crowd of brands competing for their attention.

David works with branding and outdoor experts to develop and launch a campaign to get children outdoors and into nature - the ultimate, free, wonder-product.

Filmmaker and star of ‘Project Wild Thing’, David Bond, said: “I wanted to understand why my children’s childhood is so different from mine, whether this matters and if it does, what I can do about it.

“The reasons why kids, whether they live in cities or the countryside, have become disconnected from nature and the outdoors are complex.

“’Project Wild Thing’ isn’t some misty eyed nostalgia for the past; we need to make more space for wild time in children’s daily routine, freeing this generation of kids to have the sort of experiences that many of us took for granted.

“It’s all about finding wildness on your doorstep and discovering the sights, sounds and smells of nature, whether in a back garden, local park or green space at the end of the road.

“Spending time outdoors is hugely beneficial to children and young people. Research clearly shows that it improves their health, reduces stress and boosts wellbeing.”

The Wild Network [5], which is made up of more than 370 organisations, large and small, is leading a campaign calling for more wild time for every child, every day. Members of the network include the National Trust, RSPB, Play England and the NHS Sustainable Development Unit.

Andy Simpson, Chair of the Wild Network, said: “The tragic truth is that kids have lost touch with nature and the outdoors in just one generation.

“Time spent outdoors is down [6], roaming ranges have fallen drastically [7], activity levels are declining [8] and the ability to identify common species has been lost [9].

“New research published last week illustrates the scale of the challenge with only one in five (21 per cent) children aged eight to twelve years old having a connection with nature [10].

“With many more parents becoming concerned about the dominance of screen time in their children’s lives [11], and growing scientific evidence that a decline in active time is bad news for the health and happiness of our children [12], we all need to become Marketing Directors for Nature.

“An extra thirty minutes of wild time every day for all under 12-year olds in the UK would be the equivalent of just three months of their childhood spent outdoors [13].

“We want parents to see what this magical wonder-product does for their kids’ development, independence and creativity, by giving wild time a go.”

Suggestions of how to get more wild time playing outdoors in nature include everything from collecting conkers, camping or snail racing to playing leaf snap and counting autumn colour on trees. The new ‘Wild Time’ app [14] is available to show how technology can help give time-pressed families a bucket list of ideas to help get their kids outdoors.

Starting in January 2014 the Wild Network will publish, over the course of the next year, a series of short, focused policy asks to tackle the most serious barriers between children and nature. These will put children, nature and outdoor play firmly on the agenda of the political parties in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

The discussion about swapping screen time for wild time will continue on twitter via the feed @wearewildthing and using the hashtag #wildtime.

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For further press information please contact: Mike Collins, the Wild Network, on 07900 138419 or media@thewildnetwork.com

Notes to editors: [1] Wild time is all about playing outdoors and spending time in the natural world. It’s about the time outside of the structured school day – it could be time on the journey to school, after school or at weekends.

[2] Children are on average spending four and a half hours a day surfing the internet or watching TV (Childwise 2013 Monitoring Trends report http://www.childwise.co.uk/childwise-published-research-detail.asp?PUBLISH=53)

[3] Letting children go out to play is one of the best things that parents can do for their children’s health - outdoor play uses more calories than clubs and tuition, (Making children’s lives more active, University College London, 2004); children who said they ‘noticed and enjoyed their surroundings’ most days (i.e. were connected to their local environment) had much higher well-being scores than those who didn’t (The Children’s Society, The Good Childhood Report, 2013); and children that are exposed to nature score higher on concentration and self-discipline; improve their awareness, reasoning and observational skills; do better in reading, writing, maths, science and social studies; are better at working in teams; and show improved behaviour overall, (Sigman, A, ‘Agricultural Literacy: Giving concrete children food for thought’ (2007) http://www.face-online.org.uk/resources/news/Agricultural%20Literacy.pdf)

[4] Project Wild Thing goes on general release in cinemas nationwide from 25 October and is available on Curzon Home Cinema from Sunday 27 October at 7pm (http://www.curzoncinemas.com/filmondemand/). All proceeds from the release of the film go to the Wild Network. Tickets can be bought via the website at http://www.projectwildthing.com. You can join the conversation about the film on twitter using the hashtag #projectwildthing.

[5] The Wild Network was launched on the 25 September this year. Hundreds of organisations, large and small, and thousands of individuals, have come together to create a movement whose aim is to reconnect kids with nature and outdoor play. Details on how to get involved can be found here – http://projectwildthing.com/thewildnetwork and you can also see a list of organisations involved at http://projectwildthing.com/organisations. Members include the Woodland Trust, Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, RSPB, Play England, Scouts Association, Swarm and the NHS Sustainable Development Unit.

[6] Time playing outside during the week and at weekends has halved in one generation and children are more inclined to stay indoors and watch television, play computer games and even do their homework, than go outside to play, (JCB Kids Fresh Air Campaign, 2013) and fewer than 1 in 10 children regularly play in wild spaces, versus about half a generation ago, (http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/Images/Childhood%20and%20Nature%20Survey_tcm6-10515.pdf) .

[7] Gaster, S. (1991) Urban Children’s Access to Their Neighbourhoods: Changes Over Three Generations, quoted in Louv, R. (2005) Last Child in the Woods, p123; two thirds of parents now believe that their children have less freedom to roam than free-range chickens (ICM poll for Playday, 2010).

[8] Only half of seven year olds are getting the hour of exercise that they need every day according to research by the UCL Institute of Child Health (http://www.bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/8/e002893).

[9] Three times as many children could identify a Dalek as a magpie, “Wildlife alien to indoor children”, National Trust, 2008, (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/what-we-do/news/archive/view-page/item737221/).

[10] Details of the research findings and methodology from the RSPB and the University of Essex research, published in October 2013, can be found here: http://www.rspb.org.uk/connectionmeasure.

[11] Research commissioned by the online retailer Pixmania showed that more than 70 per cent (72%) of parents believe that children are too attached to gadgets (http://www.primarytimes.net/parenttimesnews0121iPaddy.php).

[12] Reports published over the summer about the impact of an inactive and indoor lifestyle on children: British Heart Foundation and the University of Oxford (http://www.bhf.org.uk/default.aspx?page=16375); and Public Health England (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/28/children-health-tv-computer-games. The Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, Simon Gillespie, even called for a return to ‘a traditional outdoors childhood’ to prevent children from being the first generation in history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents.

[13] If every child in the UK under 12 years old spent at least half an hour of wild time every day that would be the equivalent of 4.5 million hours a day or 1.64 billion hours in a year. There are just over 9 million children under the age of 12 in the UK (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference--tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-319259).

[14] Details of how to download the new ‘Wild Time’ app for iPhones and the Android version can be found here: http://projectwildthing.com/wildtime.

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Comments

2 comments so far…

  • I wish to speak to someone, please, by telephone, from the organisation, to discuss my proposal. There doesn't seem to be a 'contacts page' so I can instigate discussions!

    Posted by William Boyce at 1:55pm on 28 Oct 2013

  • This is a great idea I am doing a current affairs talk about this.

    Posted by Annabel Peters at 5:19pm on 3 Nov 2013

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