A year ago today I stood up in front of a room full of conservationists and told them they had failed. They exist to get people outdoors and connected to nature. But, increasingly, people are not interested. They vote with their feet, and stay indoors. More worryingly, so do their children.
I was speaking at last autumn’s Natural Childhood Summit. Hundreds of people – teachers, health professionals, academics and naturalists – gathered to debate how we might tackle children’s increasing disconnection from nature. The problem is complex and the barriers to getting children outside are almost overwhelming. As individuals we could never hope to scratch the surface of the problem. But something very exciting has happened. The summit has given birth to something remarkable.
A year on, that broad body of individuals and organisations has developed into a new movement, officially launching today, to kick-start a revolution to reconnect children with natural world.
THE WILD NETWORK is a unique, pioneering collaboration of individuals and groups. All members are determined to put aside any differences and to campaign, agitate and lobby to help children get a fair dose of wild time.
Already over 300 organisations (among them the National Trust, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, Play England, and the NHS Sustainable Development Unit) have joined. This number is growing every day. Please join as an individual or as an organisation. We need all the help we can get to achieve our goal: the systematic breakdown of the barriers that keep children indoors, often on screens, and away from what they really want, and what is best for them physically and emotionally – wild time.
When I noticed how little my young children want to go outside, I tried to market nature to British children. You can see how I got on in PROJECT WILD THING (in cinemas from 25th October). I realized that this is a massive fight. The forces stacked up against a natural childhood are pretty formidable. From today, The Wild Network will take up the fight – with a combined membership of over 7 million at their back. Together we aim to reconnect a million children with nature.
Partners in The Wild Network are organizing special events around many of PROJECT WILD THING’s cinema screenings. Please come along and help us or help us to spread the word. All revenue from the release is going to support the network’s activities.
Find out more about The Wild Network and how to see PROJECT WILD THING at www.projectwildthing.com.