We know the outdoors is great for our health. Getting outdoors regularly strengthens our immune system, calms our minds and helps us sleep better.
The Muddy Hands report, written by Outdoor People team Cath Prisk and Harry Cusworth, states “regular time outdoors has been linked to increased physical activity, improved mood, better eyesight, better bone development and healthier immune systems.”
With the nights drawing in, the cold weather on its way, and another lockdown or restrictions looking evermore likely, taking the time to get outdoors everyday - making use of this free resource on our doorsteps - is something we can all do to keep ourselves safe and heathy this winter and all year round.
“In 2010, Qing Li, a South Korean researcher reported on the positive effect of forest bathing – being out in the woods – with the smell of pine being particularly beneficial for increasing T-killer cell counts.” (Muddy Hands Report, 2019).
We also know that this time of year can be difficult to get outdoors. Some people hate the cold and rain, while others just don't have the right kit to make getting outdoors whatever the weather easy and fun. The early nights mean going out for a walk after work can be less appealing and, for some, less safe.
With all this in mind, we are turning to our community to ask... how can we help ourselves feel good on the inside about getting outside everyday?
We are inviting Hackney residents, especially families and people working with children, to join a small action research team to explore this question. Over four workshops, we will share our personal experiences and undertake research activities, such as interviewing friends, taking photographs, going on an adventure or keeping a diary - whatever the group decides! In each workshop, we will reflect together on what we learnt and plan a new activity to explore our questions further, following the principles of Participatory Action Research.
In the final workshop, we will decide how we want to share what we've learnt with our community and share with our community at our Winter Solstice celebration the following week. This might be an exhibition, publication or even a song!
Workshop 1: Tuesday 23rd November 4-6pm
Workshop 2: Tuesday 30th November 4-6pm
Workshop 3: Tuesday 7th December 4-6pm
Workshop 4: Tuesday 14th December 4-6pm
Winter Solstice Celebration: Tuesday 21st December 4-8pm
All workshops will be held at Outdoor People Community Shop, 352A Mare Street, E8 1HR. Dinner will be provided!
Each adult will receive a £20 Retail Gift Card (of your choice). Each child will receive a magnifying glass, a Live & Learn First Aid Pocket Guide and a pair of Stance socks (the most comfortable socks ever!). All travel expenses will be covered.
Who are these workshops for?
These workshops are open to anyone who is interested in exploring how they can help themselves and their family, friends and neighbours to get outdoors more. We are especially keen to welcome people who have children in their lives, whether you work with children, have children of your own or in your family. We welcome people of all ages and from all backgrounds.
You don't need to have any research experience or have ever been involved in something like this, we are all experts of our own experience and that's the most important thing!
If you have children, they are welcome to join the workshops too. There will be some time in the workshops for everyone to participate together (children and adults) and also separate child-friendly activities.
What is required of you?
We require you to commit to all four workshops, unless of course unforeseen circumstances mean you are unable to. We ask that you join with an open mind and lots of curiosity. Between the workshops you will have research activities to complete, these can be done within your own time, capacity and comfort. Most importantly, the research activities are decided by you, so there is no obligation to do things you would prefer not to do.
There will be a maximum of 8 participants, allowing for physical distancing. Hand sanitiser and face masks will be provided. All participants will be asked to undertake a lateral flow test on the day of each of the workshops. We will have a discussion at our first workshop about Covid-safety.
How to get involved...
If you would like to join the action research team or find out more about the project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest. Please share whether or not you can attend all the workshops and a little bit about why you are interested in participating.