As a business we’ve only been up and running for about 9 weeks and so much has happened in that time! We’ve been overwhelmed and so grateful for all the support and encouragement we’ve had from those nearest and dearest to us, as well as new contacts we’ve made on our short, but speedy journey.
We’ve realised how our work has already become very different but the same, which might seem like a bit of an odd thing to say…so let’s explain what we mean.
When we sat at the kitchen table back in February, drinking tea and eating biscuits, as opposed to a glass of water and a few grapes (must try harder!) we were rolling around ideas and knew that our aim was to redress the balance between the fast pace, digital world where everyone is up to their eyeballs and has too much going on in their lives; with the need to take time to breathe and just embrace what’s around them a bit more. Time to re-group is a necessity because we’ve become experts at being totally stressed out!
As teachers we’ve spent years working with increasing numbers of children who have difficulties with mental health. More and more parents are struggling with the demands thrown at them and this impacts on their own mental health. And we’ve worked with fellow Professionals who are all saying the same thing about themselves. We ALL go through hard times and if we’re being honest we’re probably a bit too British sometimes to admit that we’re struggling. Equally, others identify that life is tough but sometimes the help just isn’t forthcoming.
As we sat at the kitchen table (with more tea!) we set out to work with children. That’s our forte. That’s what we have masses of experience with. We feel passionately about getting more young people outdoors and just allowing them to do what every child should be doing – JUST PLAY…experience, have fun and learn some of life’s essential skills! But in these few weeks since we launched Wild play, we’ve realised that it’s so much more than that.
We were approached to be involved with providing a craft workshop, for a group of adults who were all currently out of work (for a wide variety of reasons). It was part of a wellbeing course and we were asked to attend session 2. It was fascinating to see how this group of people who had only met once before, seemed to gel as a group as the workshop progressed. Through the range of activities we supported them with, we were able to stand back and observe how these people talked about their lives both past and present, along with their aspirations for the future. We saw them re-discover talents that had been hidden for years. We listened to these people support each other and in turn, support themselves. They arrived looking, understandably, a bit daunted and left looking forward to the next session.
During the recent half term, we were back in the woodland with our Explorers Holiday Club. What an absolute joy it was too! We just loved working with the groups of children and, for us, after all the years in teaching, suddenly the awe and wonder was back! (Teachers reading this will know EXACTLY what we mean!) Some of the children chose to find bugs nearly all day and record their findings on the clipboard they had clutched to them! Others supported each other and worked collaboratively to make a home for some ‘special little friends’. We played, discovered, wandered, chatted, learnt from each other and by the end of the day the group had become a lovely community. We decided to make a fire and toast marshmallows. Some of the children had never experienced this before and the sound of ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ was just magical as they studied the flames by looking through our jumbo magnifying glasses!
Our work with a local school has been incredibly rewarding too as we’ve seen how the group have transformed to working more collaboratively. These children have benefitted so much from being outdoors and have developed their skills and talents in a way that is so far removed from the classroom environment.
We’ve had feedback that children’s behaviour at home changed beyond recognition following on from one of our Explorer days…really?! YES! For children to be inspired by something they’ve found, made or how they helped another Explorer is fantastic…AND that they want to come back for more!
We’ve had parents of young children asking us to provide Family Explorer days because they just ‘don’t do stuff like that’ together. And we’ve been asked to provide more Community events for adults. We love this element of our work. Providing support and enjoyment for adults through the inspiration of the great outdoors and all the health benefits that brings is just so important.
So, that’s it. The past 9 weeks have been a whirlwind of wonderfulness! We’ve spoken to so many people, of all ages and from all walks of life and they have all said pretty much the same thing…that no matter your age, what you do or where you come from, getting back to nature, being amongst ‘green stuff’ and taking time out to play (whatever that might look like), is just so important.
P.S since writing this blog, we’ve also been asked to provide corporate days too…time for employers and employees to get out amongst the green stuff….sounds good to us!