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11/10/2017

Children want to spend more time outside in nature

An overwhelming number of children want to turn off the TV, put down their devices and spend more time outside exploring nature, a new research survey by the RSPB has revealed.


The RSPB's Connecting Children with Nature partnership – a £2m project funded by discount supermarket Aldi – which has over the past two years helped over 240,000 children take their first steps on their own wild adventure, found that 85% of children who took part wanted to spend more time outside in nature.


The project survey, which quizzed over 1000 school children and teachers about their nature experience session with the RSPB, revealed that 86% of pupils learnt something new about nature that they didn't know before, while the overwhelming majority of teachers agreed that taking part in lessons outdoors increased children's confidence.

In recent years, a number of studies have pointed to the amount of time British children are spending outside exploring nature is on the decline. To encourage more children and their families to swap the sofa for the great outdoors the RSPB launched the Connecting Children with Nature partnership, which has to date seen children across Britain spend more than 360,000 hours outside on their own nature adventure.


To allow children to explore the outdoors, learn new skills and try something different like their parents and grandparents did, the partnership funded a number of activities. Since its launch, a schools' outreach programme has seen RSPB-trained staff and volunteers deliver free, 90-minute nature experience sessions to more than 1000 schools in 17 cities across England, Wales and Scotland. The sessions give pupils the opportunity to swap the classroom for the great outdoors to see how they can help wildlife in their school grounds.

To help children and their families to embark on their own wild adventure away from the classroom, the partnership also launched the Wild Challenge this Easter. Consisting of 24 activities from minibeast safaris and rock pooling to creating a hedgehog café and planting for wildlife, the challenge allows families to go on their own wild adventure taking them from their own back garden to exploring towns, cities, woodlands and even the coast. So far, 44,000 Wild Challenge actions have been taken in gardens and communities.


Martyn Foster, RSPB Head of Education, Families and Youth, said: “Children will always remember their first discoveries when out getting wild in nature. From the thrill of finding a blitz of bugs under a rock to spotting a family of starlings furiously flying around in search of their next meal.


“The crisp sunny days, amazing natural colours and returning wildlife make autumn a great time to get outside and discover the wild wonders. We know from past research that children aren't spending the same amount of time in nature as their parents and grandparent did, and this is something we want to change. With the positive impact nature has on children's learning, physical health and emotional wellbeing it is more important than ever that we are helping young people to experience, learn and value the natural world. Nature is an adventure waiting to be had, so get out, get busy and get wild.”


Oliver King, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi UK, said: “Aldi is proud to partner with the RSPB to bring essential opportunities to young people in their local environment. I joined a Giving Nature a Home session at a local school and witnessed the passion of the RSPB staff and volunteers in helping the children gain confidence from the outdoor experience.


“It's rewarding to see the scale of what we've achieved together and the vital contribution the partnership has made in helping so many young people learn more, value and experience the wonders of nature.”


By 2018, over half-a-million children will have benefited from the Connecting Children with Nature partnership. With autumn being one of the most exciting times of the year for nature, the RSPB is encouraging children, parents and grandparents to get outside and under some wild wonders, including going on a fungi foray, building a hedgehog café or investigating the leaves and seeds that have started to fall from the trees.


For some ideas on exciting activities to do outdoors or to start your own Wild Challenge adventure with your family, visit www.rspb.org.uk/wildchallenge