Play Wild project helps parents be more confident outdoors

"The project has been a great success, the children taking part said they have loved exploring nature.” Marc Whitlock of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Date posted: 5 December 2017

A project designed to help disadvantaged families from deprived areas feel confident playing in wild spaces has had a significant positive effect, a report by the University of Derby reveals.

The Play Wild project was designed to help families from deprived areas learn how use the outdoors for play after research showed that many parents, especially in towns and cities, don’t take their children to wild places; often because they didn’t know about them, or because they weren’t confident about knowing what they could do there.

Play Wild launched last March with a £46,700 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Partners in the project included Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Eastern Moors Partnership, Natural England, National Trust, Peak District National Park Authority, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, University of Derby and the RSPB.

Play Wild events hosted by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust focused especially on helping families in Chesterfield, Ilkeston and Derby with children under five – an age group reported as being underserved by suitable events in the county - use green spaces for informal wild play, like den building and tree climbing. Overall the project provided 60 wild play events across the region between June and November this year, reaching 1,461 people.

One of the session leaders, Marc Whitlock of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The project has been a great success, the children taking part said they have loved exploring nature.”

Sue Melbourne, of Chaucer Nursery told the Trust that parents who were involved with the Play Wild project really enjoyed it. “Parents have thought more about taking their children outside to play and explore, and they have told me how they’ve incorporated some of the ideas from the sessions into what they have done at the weekends since taking part.”

The University of Derby monitored the participants to evaluate the project’s outcomes and impact; their report states the project had a statistically significant effect on parent’s confidence in their ability to take their children outdoors to play, as well as more confident in knowing where to go, knowing what to do and in their level of nature connection.

Several parents have stated their intention to get outdoors with their children more often since taking part in the project. “We love being outdoors, this has been great, and we will be visiting Carsington again over the holidays and weekends” said one participant, while another said they had “been given lots of ideas that we can do outside and looking forward to getting out more”.

The results from the project show that just one session in nature can help families to improve their skills, information and knowledge about playing outdoors with their families. Spending time outdoors has been shown to increase people’s sense of connection to nature and is beneficial for health and wellbeing in both adults and children. Projects like Play Wild demonstrate that nature-based interventions could help to improve the health and wellbeing of families from deprived areas.

Take a look at the Play Wild webpage to learn all about this fascinating project and the partners involved visit:

Media enquiries: contact Kaite Helps at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on 01773 881188.


Editors’ Notes

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, a Registered Charity, is the only organisation working to protect all wildlife across the county. We are one of 47 in The Wildlife Trusts Partnership, a nationwide network of local trusts. We manage 43 nature reserves throughout Derbyshire, advise local authorities and landowners on nature conservation issues and run a range of conservation and education projects.

We are committed to The Wildlife Trusts’ strategy of creating Living Landscapes – robust, connected landscapes that address the challenges facing our wildlife and countryside.

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