Wildlife Safari 1 - Pill fields

This project was mainly for young people between the ages of 7-14 and organised through and for the local children and young people's partnership - Pill Kids. It was, in part, designed to bring young people to a green area of meadows, woods, ponds and hedges close to the heart of the village – a natural green playground.

After taking children from Crockerne Pill Junior School to this same area for the World of Small project in November, it was surprising and disheartening to learn that very few of these year 4 pupils had visited this area before, even though it is within short walking distance from the centre of the village as well as their school. But the children had a wonderful time, even though it was very wet and muddy, discovering the natural world - at their feet, under the water, in the hedges and trees and up in the sky, and some were very keen to return with their families.

It's understandable that parents have concerns about their children being exposed to dangers but Local Journeys’ has been hearing first-hand from teachers and adults that many children have a real anxiety about ‘failing’, getting dirty, taking risks; all things that can help you learn how to become a fully functioning adult.

Nature Deficit Disorder is a topic that is currently under discussion by environmentalists and teachers along with similar concerns about how children are becoming spoon-fed and spending unhealthy amounts of time in front of computers; the Wildlife Safaris were our way of introducing a supervised discovery event around the children’s home territory in the hope that they would be able to follow this up with their own explorations with parents or friends.

We felt that if children and young people can be guided to develop strategies for dealing with potential risks, and learn to co-operate with each other in an outdoor environment, this could build personal confidence and increase social interaction in all sorts of circumstances.

Fortunately, the Pill Kids organisation shared our aims and supported the project with some funding to run two events. The first one took place on June 2nd for children between 8 and 16 in the fields, ponds and copses at the west end of the village. The activities, each run by volunteers - wildlife experts or knowledgeable enthusiasts - included pond-dipping in two different locations, hunting for hidden clues, insect discovery, den decoration, hat making , digital microscope photography and creating a giant artwork.

Everyone who took part (children and adults) loved it – ‘it was a brilliant event’, ‘cracking day’ and one older resident saw everyone heading towards the fields from her window and said ‘The children were buzzing with happiness’.

A second Wildlife Safari for families took place in late summer at the other end of the village - click here to learn what we did.

You can see photographs of both the Wildlife Safari events on the Local Journeys' flickr pages and find out more detail of the day's activities on the Local Journeys' blog.