I love this picture. 7 year old seeing the sea for first time after lockdown. Absolute freedom. And very wet trainers 20 seconds later.
Trips matter. Experiences matter. Stays away from home matter. It matters that we live on an island and thousands of children reach secondary school having never seen the sea. Yes really.
So as the Department for Education allows day activities and trips but continues to stress the absolute priority for ‘academic catch-up’; and some schools are having to narrow their academic curriculum because of the resources needed to support social distancing; with government guidance still advising against residentials – what can we do to ensure that the gap in experiences between those who have easy access and those that don’t doesn’t continue to increase?
It’s devastating to know that over 500,000 young people are missing out on their first residential this year. And as much as parents across the globe have taken on the task of home schooling, it’s safe to say that outdoor learning is going to be a part of the recovery for children and young people as we move back to a more ‘normal’ way of life. In the meantime though, it’s important that we engage them with colourful ideas for planning future adventures, connect them with wildlife and excite them with endless possibilities to explore the world around them.
Outdoor adventures. From running away from waves to climbing a mountain; to noses in the mud following a worm to the first time you fell out of a tree. For many of us our most vivid childhood memories come from exploring outdoors. And the benefits of the outdoors are well evidenced. On health and well being, On learning. On creativity, resilience and ‘character’. And just for fun.
But also – and yes it is dramatic input – our survival as a species requires the next generation to be connected to the planet; to the outdoors, to nature and to the environment. But access to the outdoors is not equitable. Money, access, fear of risk, disability – many things stand in the way. And we know it is often those who might benefit the most from adventure in the outdoors that have the least opportunity to benefit from its powers.
Oh the irony. Being announced as an Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champion in the week the entire world is being told to stay indoors. And stay in we must – the latest government guidance is clear on Stay In: Protect NHS: Save Lives. So what is the role of a Get Outside Champion in lockdown?
I was fortunate to be at a presentation on the Glover Review with input from the review lead himself. Much to like. And – as someone who leads on access and inclusion – the call to action to make ensure that public assets – the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – are truly ‘for all’ was welcome. But when asked a question on how to open access the panel were heartfelt in their desire to affect change but limited on the solutions.
As we enter 2020 I have set a resolution across all of my work to ensure every child gets a residential experience – at least once at primary age and once at secondary. In truth these experiences should be annual – whether through schools, youth work or other routes – but let’s start small (ish).
I love the National Trust. Kids ran riot in several of their properties over the summer (sorry). And I was struck by their inclusion in this pretty sensible list of money saving tips for children’s holiday adventures.
Indeed, National Trust and other membership schemes can present great value. Below are some examples of passes that could be included in list. This makes no statement about how family friendly they are or the value they present. But for many – regardless of value per visit – they are still unaffordable.
As we look at access to cultural capital – to nature, arts, heritage, sports and the broadest range of social and enrichment experiences – we know that many families stand on the periphery. While there are – reasonable and important – ongoing debates about whose culture is valued, the reality is that there are many families who do not get the same access to public or charitably funded resources as their peers. The reasons for this are multiple and while some are complex and need further exploration the reality is that there are a number of simple steps that settings and providers could take that would enable a broader range of families to access their services.
Aligned to her work with Every Child Should Anita explores, in this blog, entitlement passports and presents her tips for developing your own.
A blog on EveryChildShould on the importance of the outdoors. In the blog Anita reflects on her personal reasons for believing in the benefits of the outdoors, and invites you to reflect on what the outdoors means to you.