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campaign, Campaigns, outdoor classroom day -

The sun shining full on my face. That is my stand out number one feel good factor. That moment when you turn a corner, move from the shadows, come out of the door. It just makes me smile! So I just looked up what makes that feel good factor, and it seems there are all sorts of reasons. The vitamin D, serotonin production, the clear light, the warmth. It makes everything light up. And it helps me remember better, be more creative, feel more positive…

So why, WHY, why does Natural England report* that in an average month during 2013-15 only eight per cent of school-aged children (aged 6-15) in England visited the natural environment with their schools?? As in WENT OUTDOORS. Eight percent.

So 92% didn’t go outdoors to learn. Didn’t take advantage of the cheapest, most accessible boost to learning there is… the sun. This got me thinking. How many youth centres have really taken advantage of the sunny summer we’ve had to ensure all of the young people on their books are using local parks and green spaces? How many have checked to see if local adventure playgrounds are being made use of and that young people know their rights in terms of going off for adventures? Why are so many after school clubs INDOORS?? Why so very few forest kindergartens??

Fact is it is almost impossible to find out as most of the organisations that once surveyed such things have gone, but just reading this esteemed publication suggests simply not enough. Jim Burt of Natural England thinks – hopes! - we are at a turning point in terms of outdoor education… Certainly in Singapore, Finland, Denmark and many other countries with excellent rated systems we also see use of the outdoors promoted and supported. And not just for lessons. Children’s free time outdoors is also recognized as great too.**

This Thursday, October 6th, is Outdoor Classroom Day. Over 1000 schools  32 countries world-wide are signed up to celebrate their playtimes and take at least one lesson outdoors, inspired by the UK’s Empty Classroom Day last June. Project Dirt, the NGO I’ve been supporting to grow this campaign globally, is hoping that these schools will inspire a change in the way schools - and nurseries, youth services and after school settings – think about how they use the outdoors.

We are standing alongside many other NGOs from Australia, the US, Spain, Brazil, and global organisations such as the International Schools Grounds Alliance in wanting to inspire schools to get outdoors more!

We want to see policy change so EVERY school gets 90 minutes playtime a day. So that learning outdoors is part of every child’s every day. So that the outdoors is brought to life as an important part of every child’s world. So that they stand up in their communities to say that the outdoors should be valued every single day. So children have the freedom to play. So it is normal. Maybe it can start from simply celebrating how good the sun on their faces feels….

*https://naturalengland.blog.gov.uk/2016/07/21/busting-the-myths-on-outdoor-learning-in- schools/ **https://naturalengland.blog.gov.uk/2016/09/29/are-we-at-the-turning-point-for-outdoor- learning/

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Diary, Hackney, high tech high nature, walks, wild walks -

This evening I walked home from Kings Cross along a canal. There were ducks and coots. It was cool but not cold. There were many lush plants and grassy areas and some great smells. Also lots of nice people left curtains open and lights on so I could indulge a favourite pastime of checking out their living rooms. My phone was nearly out of power so I neither listened to music, called anyone nor took photos for Instagram...

It was a little over three miles, and because I went slowly I saw things I wouldn't normally notice.

I got home feeling great. 

I then had tea and thought I'd check Twitter. And Facebook. And post a couple of articles I think interesting on my two facebook pages. Oh and Instagram. And then best check personal email accounts. And just one scoot through Instagram. 

Whilst I did see some interesting stuff - especially the research on why America vilifies mum's that leave children alone for a few minutes (scheduled to appear on Outdoor People's Facebook page in the morning) - did it make me FEEL good?

No.

I feel like it undid the peace and quiet of that lovely walk. I wish I'd gone to sleep early instead.  And yet I felt compelled to write it down.  Because this is why I campaign to get kids outdoors.

High tech high nature is a phrase coined by The Wild Network. I might not have noticed how edgy I felt after an hour of skimming social media without that hour of wandering to compare it too.  I love social media. But I love not being engaged too. 

How to balance the two?  Best leave it there and turn off the phone!

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#OutdoorPeople, adventure, Diary, snowdon, Wild, Wildtime -

Busyness. Life. Zen. Living in East London I, like many others, live what I often think of as a madly busy life. We are surrounded by the constant noise of traffic, shops, people. Competing imagery, sounds, smells, sensations.  And that's before the usual human noise of friendships, relationships, maybe children, parents, family, work colleagues and the aquantance who suddenly tells you how her life is going down the toilet. Constantly watchful. Always worrying. And often simply worrying we are worrying too much. I'll take a wild stabbing guess that this holds true - maybe with some substitutions - for most folks most places. And of course that is life in all its rich, varied messiness. But it can take concentration and effort to be calm and ordered. And especially if one of the magic pillars of our lives - family, home, work - gets damaged. Well I just saw Wild - the film about Cheryl Strayed who ran away from her life, and found herself along a three month hike.

This is a beautiful film. Quite literally beautiful as she walks through some of the most gorgeous landscapes and wild places. But also emotionally beautiful as she figuratively picks up her overloaded life and then quietly sheds it and learns to use it properly over the following three months. She had some really big issues to deal with, but on the human scale this reminds us of the power of wild. When reviewing the Hackney Wild Walks one statement from every participant was loud and clear. That simply having a walk through the park, along the canal, a few minutes to smell lavender and see the sky through the trees cleared the mind and lifted the heart. And we all reflected on how important this is on a day to day basis for all children. A few days ago I saw this photo on Facebook: IMG_7277 It made me stop and think. Is it true? Well yes, of course. Cheryl is still Cheryl even when she's walked for eight days on muesli... And I don't become a different person on top of Stac Pollaidh, or walking in the park. But the space. It just makes it easier to strip away the noise. To feel more in control. To reconnect with our spaces inside. And every time we go wild - whether for five mutes or five months - we can help bring that back into our daily lives. These are some of my favourite wild places, places I want to get back to, places I think of when my head starts spinning, places I can go to by closing my eyes. And walking out my front door. [caption id="attachment_1680" align="aligncenter" width="665"]Snowdonia Snowdonia (credit Richard Outram)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1676" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Achiltibuie, NW Highlands Achiltibuie, NW Highlands (Credit Jim Downie, Achiltibuie Appreciation Society)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1673" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Stac Pollaidh Stac Pollaidh (credit Jim Downie, Achiltibuie Appreciation Society)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1674" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Chapel Porth, Cornwall Chapel Porth, Cornwall (credit Cath Prisk)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1677" align="aligncenter" width="640"]London Fields, Hackney London Fields, Hackney[/caption] We bring our zen with us, but sometimes we need to walk a spell to find it right here... I'd love to hear about your wild spaces. Where do you go and why? *Thanks to the Achiltibuie Appreciation Society and to Richard Outran Welsh Landscapes (both links Fb groups) from whom I borrowed the Scottish and Welsh images. And to Charlie and his friends for endlessly modelling in London Fields, my nearest bit of 'wild' if not really actually wilderness!

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#OutdoorPeople, Christmas, Diary, Exhale, newsletter, Online Shop, Shop, snowdon, sustainability -

Phew. What a  year 2014 was. I can't believe Outdoor People is now over seven months old! I must admit on stepping down from Play England back in March, and leaving the NCB in May, setting up my own company was a very scary step to take. And to try to build it as a 'social enterprise' an even scarier one. Most people don't even know what a social enterprise is, and frankly even those that do have many different definitions! Could I cope with the drastic change in income? Could my husband? Could I cope without a great team around me? Where on earth would I get stuff to sell and could I cope with not just giving stuff away??? How could I keep ensuring what I do benefits children? So anyway  after a very blustery launch in May I set out with a clear mission:

To Make the Outdoors Easy - especially for families and children
IMG_0618 And with a lot of hard work, building on existing networks and backing from friends and family, and the many fabulous customers, it does indeed seem to be working! So I want to use this first blog of 2015 to say Thank you To so many folks...
  • Everyone we've worked with over the last year:
    • The lovely people who have commissioned work from us;
    • all the wonderful customers and folks that have come to the stall;
    • the folks behind Exhale festival;
    • and most definitely the families that came camping!
Big thanks too to the great folks at the Tornado Boiler Company (the Storm Kettles), Kairaasi (the tiffins), Cake Club Clothing (the hats) and Whitby & Co (who distribute Klean Kanteen and Niteize) for being the first to back the rather weird idea of a high-end design-led outdoor gear market stall! So what next? The Board of the 'social' bit of the 'Social Enterprise has just expanded and I'll be introducing you to the new board members soon. Fingers crossed we'll have some projects to make a practical difference locally and further afield soon. Nationally I'll continue to be supporting The Wild Network as a board member, to lobby, campaign and shout about the critical importance of kids being outdoors, not just for their own sake (and the sanity of their parents/teachers/families!) but for the future of the planet... I'll also be doing what I can to support the London wide campaign to get us named 'Greater London National Park', as well as continuing to help other locally based organisations that get kids outdoors. We've just completed the first phase of Hackney Wild Walks and I'll be discussing with the new board - and the council - where to next on that. And what about the 'Shop'? IMG_6047 I'll be spending part of the next four weeks revamping the website a bit and thinking about where the 'shop' will go as the seriously 'enterprise' bit of the social enterprise. We'll be back in the Schoolyard of Broadway Market on Saturday January 17th, and folks can order online, first post out will be Monday 5th. The 'shop' has really done as well as I could have hoped - and far, far better than my mum expected!! - so what next?? Do I just consolidate and build up the stall and online? Or do I look for a concession or a shop? Or do some pop up shops? Thoughts from you as Outdoor Peeps are very welcome! So here's wishing you many fantastic Outdoors Adventures for 2015, and hoping they are good ones!
Happy New Year 2015 original
Happy Outdoors New Year 2015!

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#OutdoorPeople, Broadway Market Schoolyard, East London Design Show, Exhale, Newsletter, Online Shop -

IMG_6047Whilst I'm a firm believer that the best toys for kids include sticks, mud and cardboard boxes, I'm very happy to say that our trip to the East London Design Show was a huge success. As a social enterprise I sometimes struggle with the idea of selling stuff - but if you buy from us (and other small social enterprises) you help contribute to the growing ethical consumer trend. More news on what our profits are going towards further down. Lots of photos over on Instagram. In the meantime please note now is your LAST CHANCE before Christmas to buy online from us! All orders with us by 11am Friday 18th December will get in the post, and as a special they'll be posted first class/first class signed. This weekend we'll have the full stall at Broadway Market Schoolyard on Saturday and will be doing a pop up for last minute gifts at London Fields Sunday Market, also in the Schoolyard. You can also order online and come and pick up from London Fields on Christmas Eve evening. Breaking news... Just got some new Petromax products in - the small storm lanterns and the tiniest multifuel stove you ever saw! - and some new small Storm Kettles in lovely new packaging. And just got in the Klean Kanteen Mirror Reflect limited edition bottles. If you want one for Christmas get in there now! Just so pretty! F1Ti blank K18SSLRF-MS_CMYK_full-res Hobo Stove lantern IMG_2425In other news I got my first proper bid in as Outdoor People, looking for funding to support taking single mums and others camping next year. All sales of key camping kit - tents, stoves etc - will specifically match fund the bids I'm making for this project, so hopefully be able to tell you more soon. IMG_5771Tickets for Exhale Spain and Exhale Fairoaks Farm are selling well - why not treat yourself or your partner to a promise of a Yoga Festival as an amazing present? I'll be hiring out tents again at both - again with profits going to subsidise the first time camping trips project. I'll also be working with some amazing bushcraft and play friends for the Exhale Fairoaks Farm providing fun for kids of all ages. More on that in the New Year! Finally we held the last of this series of Hackney Wild Walks Workshops with professionals from across the borough who work with families. It's been a huge privilege, and I'm now loving hearing about (and in some cases helping) the walks the Children's Centres and others are organising themselves and the plans they have to get all the families they work with outdoors and exploring! [gallery type="slideshow" ids="1434,1449,1295,1297,1168,1154,1139,1126,1471,1472,1473,1474,1475,1476,1477,1478,1479,1480,1481,1482,1483,1484,1485,1486,1487,1488,1489,1490,1491,1492,1493,1494,1495,1496,1497,1498,1499,1500,1501,1502,1503,1504,1505,1506,1507,1508,1509,1510,1511,1512,1513,1514,1515,1516,1517,1518" orderby="rand"]

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