It is not often that the Director of a wildlife organisation encourages people to head to the cinema, but that’s what Dr Gary Mantle MBE, Director of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is doing. Research published last week shows that only one in five children now have a connection to nature. The implications are significant; for families, communities, our country and our wildlife.
A new documentary aimed at parents, Project Wild Thing, aims to address this. It is part of the UK’s biggest ever campaign to reconnect children with nature and outdoor play.
“I urge all parents to see it. I hope it will change your life, and more importantly, that it will change your children’s lives,” says Mantle.
The film follows one man’s attempt to take his children away from ‘screen time’ – in front of the TV and computer games, to ‘wild time’ – outdoor play and exploring nature. It has a vital message for parents. It is time to change, to prioritise getting children outside rather than letting technology rule their lives for our convenience.
“Without noticing, we have been hurtling towards the end of traditional childhood. Something that millions of adults took for granted – being outside – has become the exception rather than the norm for today’s children. It’s amazing to think that, in just one generation, the relationship between children and the outdoors has changed so fundamentally,” says Mantle.
“Decades of further research shows that being outside makes people feel better – physically and mentally. So this week I am asking you to follow the lead of the Project Wild Thing film; substitute 30 minutes per day of screen time, with wild time. Take your children outside, or allow them out on their own if they’re old enough. Help them to reconnect with the world around them.”
Wiltshire Wildlife Trust will be posting articles full of ideas and opportunities to help children get some wild time. There’s an app too. Head to www.projectwildthing.com to download it. There are options for activities from as little as 10 minute, making them easy to fit in to busy schedules.
Wiltshire has many beautiful and fun places to get outside in, from woodland to parks – all perfect for getting some ‘wild time’ in.