"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.
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.
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.
Then as we set off along the path by the reservoir we came across the frankly most likely risk – nettles.
Everyone said they’d known children who had been stung, and what a worry it was.
Then young Fred found us some dock leaves.
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.
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The Hackney Wild Walks Workshops are being sponsored by Hackney’s Public Health Team as part of Healthy Hackney’s ambitions to reduce obesity and get young children in the borough more active through playing outdoors.