The movement to reconnect children with nature has just had a shot in the arm, with the launch yesterday of a new website and campaign to get 1 million children away from screens and out of doors. Called Project Wild Thing, the campaign is the brainchild of the film-makers Green Lions, along with supporters that include the National Trust, Play England, and food giant Arla.
We all get a lot of calls on our support, and many of us have seen campaigns for getting children out of doors and playing come and go. But my hunch is that this one deserves special attention. David Bond of Green Lions and his colleagues first got in touch with me well over a year ago, and we’ve met a few times since then. Their intelligence, energy, and passion for their medium – not to mention David’s humour – have been evident from the outset.
What is more, Green Lions have put time and energy into tracking down some great supporters, collaborators and subjects. An early teaser for their planned documentary was shown at the launch of my Sowing the Seeds report last November. More recently, the Project Wild Thing website has put together an impressive set of activity ideas, projects and resources. These include links to a Time Out list of some of London’s best playgrounds and – one of my favourite online resources for children – the Mission:Explore website.)
David explains in a trailer for the project, “I don’t want my generation to be the last generation of kids that played in the woods.”
The film sees him take on the job of ‘Marketing Director for Nature’. His goal? “Flogging the benefits of nature to the public”, to quote from the trailer. (See if you can spot veteran play theorist Bob Hughes in it, sporting a T-shirt with a provocative slogan.)
The website invites people to pledge “to spend as much of my time outdoors as I do looking at screens, and, by my advice and example, encourage others to do the same.” When I first read this, I thought “no way! I spend most of my day in front of a computer.” But thankfully, work time is not included.
I reckon I have a fighting chance to honour this pledge, so I have signed up. How about you? I am sure that those behind Project Wild Thing would love you to do the same, spread the word, and get involved in the debate. And if you have any thoughts on the campaign itself, do share them here.
Update 13 Sept 2012: Project Wild Thing has released another video, showcasing a new app that “gets you closer to nature.” iPhone lovers, look away now.