If you think today’s children’s are spending too much time indoors, you’re not alone.
In response to concerns that increasing numbers of today’s kids are more disconnected from the natural world than any previous generation, the launch of Halifax’s Wild Child Forest School comes as a fresh of breath air for families keen on getting their kids back outside and in a healthy setting.
Following on from a successful pilot program in the spring, Wild Child Forest School has launched an ambitious program of ½ and full day sessions at 2 wooded locations within 20mins to downtown Halifax, beginning in September, giving kids an opportunity to discover and explore nature from this September
Wild Child Forest School is part of a growing movement of Forest Schools around the world, which directly appeals to concerns over the negative consequences of a high tech- and fear-dominated culture which has spawned a withdrawal of children from independent and exploratory play, in natural social and physical environments.
“And it’s not just kids” say Sally Trower, the Coordinator for the Forest School. “We are realizing that parents too, need a healthy dose of exposure to nature.” Our Family Forest School Taster sessions give adults, with no previous skills, a chance to learn knife and whittling skills; how to use basic knots and use basic tools to make items for the Forest School sessions – all around a relaxed and friendly outdoor woodland campfire setting. “It’s a striking contrast to even one generation ago where parents are very vocal about the increased freedom they had to explore on their own or with friends, when they were kids,” says Trower. To date, over 60 children and their parents, have participated in activities at this community grassroots Forest School.
ParticipACTION’s 2015 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth gave grades of D- in the categories of physical activity and sedentary habits, and includes a Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play. The Position Statement was developed in response to research showing that children who play outside spend more time engaging in “heart-pumping” activities and expend more energy than when they play inside.
“I grew up roaming the woods, exploring riverbanks, and learning about the plants and animals I encountered outdoors. As an educator, I began to see that the kids I was teaching were not getting the same opportunities, and that this was affecting all aspects of their health and development,” states Wild Child Mentor Heidi Verheul, “Wild Child Forest School gives children the chance to create a relationship with green spaces and nurtures their innate curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving skills. In other words, it’s all about having fun.”
"Wild Child Forest School took my already outdoor loving daughter and gave her skills and confidence to play in the woods. Every week she came home with a new experience from building a pretend fire with wooden blocks to being completely comfortable outside in all kinds of weather. She looks for tadpoles on our nature walks as a family and tells us their life cycle, as she learned at Forest School. Fire safety and learning boundaries were well-taught and she still loves to build her own structures outside from deadfall wood. We have frequent conversations about things she learned at her Forest School and I'm so glad she's had this opportunity to gain confidence, learn skills and be encouraged in her love of outdoors. The Wild Ones did a fantastic job of nurturing her imagination, encouraging her to be a leader with the other children and to face her fears and emotions." Writes Breanne Mosher, whose daughter attends Forest School
"At first I was really excited to get my daughter involved with the 'Wild One's', then I was a little apprehensive. 'Oh my gosh, my little girl out in the wilderness, anything could happen.' But all apprehensions were relieved on that first morning when we met the Wild Child team of true professionals and all the kids dressed for the weather and excited and ready to make new discoveries in nature. A really wonderful program that we will be a part of for as long as it exists.. I've been telling all my friends about it." (Mac Thomas, Father of Elle Thomas who attends to Forest School)
Wild Child Forest School, a project of Sierra Club Canada Foundation’s Atlantic Chapter, is open to kids aged 3-5 and 6 - 12 from September 15 – October 30th. Please see www.wildchildforestschool.ca to find out more. The program is supported by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, private donors, and participating families.
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For more information, including interviews with Wild Child Forest school participating families, please contact:
Sally Trower – 902 403 7797/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to ParticipACTION 2015 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth & Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play: www.participaction.com/report-card-2015/report-card/