WILD CHILD FOREST SCHOOL PILOT PROJECTCategory: 2018, Community Grant, Current, Grant, Land Use
Wild Child Forest School & Nature Immersion is an innovative outdoor education program designed to encourage child-oriented, play-based activities in nature, creating a daily opportunity for experiencing wonder and learning about the natural environment. The Sierra Club’s education with children also involves their parents and caregivers, who become aware of the outdoors, free play in nature, and physical literacy thereby leading by example in their own communities. Their goal with the project is to establish Wild Child in Edmonton, Alberta. The Sierra Club has worked with local volunteers over the last two years to engage children and youth at Edmonton’s Riverfest, and wish to expand and deepen their nature-based programming.
Nature immersion education encourages outdoor activity, free play, and exploration of nature and natural processes. Wild Child provides opportunities for social, educational, and spiritual growth through becoming familiar with and comfortable in a natural space under the guidance of forest school mentors. It addresses issues arising from lack of outdoor activity, over-exposure to “screens,” and lack of physical literacy – a growing issue in youth today as they do not develop physical abilities and risk assessment skills acquired while spending time clambering over rocks, tree roots and playing on uneven ground. The Sierra Club hopes that Wild Child participants will establish habits for lifelong active living and deep connections to nature that will last throughout their lives.
Key activities of the pilot program would include the provision of Wild Child training to key leaders; professional development workshops; networking with outdoor clubs and nature-based educators and volunteers; promotion of programming; hosting Forest School sessions & family days during summer and early fall; program evaluation; and ongoing outreach via blogs, social media and their website.
Wild Child is truly unique, has established a track record for high-quality programming, and protocols and standards necessary for working with children.