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Hackney Wild Walks RSS

consultancy, Exhale, Hackney, Hackney Wild Walks, Market, newsletter, Project Wild Thing, Teach First, The Wild Network, Treasure Hunt -

I hope you got to enjoy some of the lovely autumn sunshine in the last week? And maybe collected some conkers and leaves? Hello to the large number of emails I just added to the list – sorry it took a while! And hello to all of you that have been with me since the start! Outdoor People is building as a social enterprise, and I’ve just been doing a lot of reflecting on the last six months and am very much looking forward to the next few months – quite a lot to be getting on with! Breaking news is I’ve been invited to write a series of blogs for Children and Young People Now and my first will be published in the next week or two. I’ll let you know when it is. Pretty excited about this, CYPN goes out to pretty much every organisation in the children and youth sectors and every local authority! “Hackney’s own adventure shop” (a lovely customer just recently said!) If you get a chance to come down to the stall you’ll see some great new stock – rucksacks, rocket stoves, backpacking stoves and hammocks. I’ve been putting one of the new Boreas rucksacks through its paces and it is just brilliant. Got a last minute restock of the fantastic Klean Kanteens this eve, thankful as only had two small flasks left! You can see lots of photos on the Instagram site – and you don’t have to me signed up to check them out. I have sold well over a hundred of the small flasks since I set up now, and just had my first couple of returns because of faults. I’m glad to say the supplier is brilliant and totally honours the lifetime guarantee as long as it is a genuine fault. Another reason why I love them so much! That and because I love hot tea and they are so pretty… Next year I’m glad to say we will be taking the shop, and hiring out tents again at Exhale Festival, in 2015 in TWO venues! At Easter a boutique festival, mainly targeted at adults though children welcomed, in the beautiful mountains above Seville in the South of Spain. And then in August we’ll be teaming up with the fantastic Sylvan Adventures to provide bushcraft and kids outdoor play for the main festival on a site at least double the size of last year’s! Buy early bird tickets – only available for the next few days – here. If you think you’d like a tent just email, the web page will be up next week. Check out the Exhale 2014 video to pick up the vibe here. The film screening of Project Wild Thing with Urban Free Range Kids was fantastic, very well attended and raised funds to help make the five-day-a week outdoor nursery a reality. They are startring their sessions properly on the 5th November so if you have small kids do check them out! As a trustee of The Wild Network I was on the panel appointing Mark Sears as the new Director and Nick Stace as Chair. We are very excited about both appointments, and about the next steps on the journey for the charity. Please do join the Wild Network if you haven’t yet – over 10,000 members and rising! We are particularly seeking folks that might be interested in being part of the advisory council who are from BME communities or are disabled, so if you or anyone you know fits that bill please do email. I’ll be doing a press release with Gift Your Gear in the run up to Christmas, and we’ve already collected a pretty large crate of stuff! If you have outdoors gear to donate you can drop it at the stall or email me, so I can either pick up or arrange for them to pick up direct. I’ve done four professional development sessions for people working with families in Hackney to help them promote #HackneyWildWalks and feedback has been fantastic. Two of the walks involved early years children, one was adults only and another, with Laburnum boat club, involved a lovely group of young people who were just brilliant at map reading. Some photos are up on Flikr, there are more to come. Out of these I’ve developed a booklet of useful resources, do let me know if you’d like a copy. A resource pack of posters and stickers will be available shortly too, free to organisations that have been part of the project or who are in Hackney and work with families. There are two, possibly three more sessions to come, one on the 12th November, others tbc. Do sign up if you work with families and...

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#OutdoorPeople, Charlie, Diary, E8, exploring, graffiti, Hackney Wild Walks, HackneyWildWalks, London Fields, Outdoor People, parks, playing, shops, streetplay, streets, urban exploring -

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
I built my long term love of just being outdoors simply playing around the the places where I was growing up. Climbing trees, roller skating, den making, breaking into building sites... More distant adventures were had, but they were special. This blog is about the everyday adventures that start just outside your front door. And be warned this is a bit more of a personal blog - but I do include a good few references to thinkers and researchers too, to bring it back to I hope something useful if you are trying to make the case to increase walking with children or families where you live or work. We moved quite a lot through my childhood and teenage years - Yorkshire, N Wales, Liverpool, Cheshire and Baghdad*. Then post college (in London), I had eight more addresses from the Highlands of Scotland to Exeter before I was 32 and finally 'settled' here in Hackney. Moving so often, playing and exploring outdoors was an important way for me to get to know my neighborhood, to put down roots quickly, to feel safe and known, to make friends with both other children (and later adults!) and the lady that ran the corner shop (insert coffee shop!). Research from a number of sources** shows children and families are safer and feel far more 'connected' where they are outdoors in their own places more and know their neighbours. Living in relatively car free areas massively increases connectivity. Whatever, from experience I'd agree that the more time you spend meandering and really looking at your neighbourhood, the more connected and safer you feel. And that still holds however old you are. In the course of the last few months developing the Hackney Wild Walks with the good folks of Hackney's Public Health team, and taking professionals for workshops and treasure hunts around some of the secret spaces across the borough has reminded me so strongly how very, very important it is for all of us to simply walk where we live. to feel it in all its seasons. Yesterday I needed to visit a shop in Haggerston, about a mile from my flat, so instead of zipping there on my bike and decided to go in a #HackneyWildWalk headspace and see what I could find... One of my favourite pastimes in Hackney is spotting new graffiti. The world is constantly changing. It doesn't matter how often you go down a path, it is always different. That applies just as much to the built as the growing environment. That's one of the many benefits parents and educators mention about simply going outdoors - there is simply so much more to talk about! IMG_4878 Stik is a famous local graffiti artist - but this is the biggest piece of his I've seen. IMG_4883 Even walking along side streets of an inner city borough on a dull October day you can find beautiful flowers, and I was happy to spot this cornflower, one of my favourites. IMG_4885 Growing up partly in the Middle East, it makes me very happy to see trees like this so close to home! When I'm doing the walk with children these provide a great talking point too. IMG_4886 And curious signs! The British sense of humour is visible in so many tucked away spaces, always nice to see! IMG_4887 Urban walks always have a bench to sit, drink your coffee, and watch the world go by. IMG_4892 Then homeward bound... IMG_4889 There are so many trees to see, plants of all shapes and sizes, animals and birds to both see and hear.  This morning - on the way to early yoga - I think I heard a nightingale. Need to check that on my app... but not until I've smelt the earth a little longer. Playing, exploring and simply observing where we live - and chatting to folks on the way, something most people seem to welcome if done with a smile, though the dog helps! - are critical not just to our health, but to our sense of who we are in the place we live. So do try and make space for a wild walk in the next week...

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community, dock leaves, Hackney, Hackney Wild Walks, Love Outdoor Play, Lubavitch, nettles, outdoor play, risk:benefit, Stamford Hill -

"I've lived here for years but didn't know this was here!” So said one of the first people to join the first Outdoor People Hackney Wild Walk Workshop.
image It was a sunny, warm morning and we’d set out from the lovely Lubavitch Children’s Centre in Stamford Hill. Our workshop was focused on building confidence in taking groups of families out to explore their neighbourhood and in encouraging families and older children to explore them by themselves. We were looking for those secret spaces, unexpected wild and the great places to play. IMG_1700 The first big knowledge share was when we talked about risk, and specifically risk:benefit. We discussed possible serious risks – falling in the canal, road crossings, sunburn. And of course the benefits – greater confidence, more likely to walk further, finding new places to play (and play actively) and for fun. IMG_1782 Then as we set off along the path by the reservoir we came across the frankly most likely risk – nettles. IMG_1705 Everyone said they’d known children who had been stung, and what a worry it was. Then young Fred found us some dock leaves. IMG_1719 As several of the group simply hadn’t grown up here, they didn’t know about dock leaves. And on further discussion with a youth worker it became clear that this simple bit of knowledge – that dock leaf sap can reduce nettle inflammation – is simply not known by Hackney kids, at least not the ones we are all targeting. It's simply a bit of useful folklore that’s got missed. So everyone picked samples to take back and share. We had a great time, everyone gained something and all enthusiastically committed to taking at least ten more Hackney kids out on the walk. And that’s 80 odd children from this walk - over 500 by the time we've done all the workshops - who will now know about nettles, and will hopefully feel a bit more confident about playing outside where they live. [gallery type="slideshow" ids="927,926,925,924,920,919,916,892,901"] The Hackney Wild Walks Workshops are being sponsored by Hackney’s GREY SQUIRRELPublic Health Team as part of Healthy Hackney’s ambitions to reduce obesity and get young children in the borough more active through playing outdoors.

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