Today, The Wild Network supported extreme film screenings of its feature length documentary ‘Project Wild Thing’ in three of the UK’s wildest landscapes to encourage families to take their screens outdoors to help reconnect a generation of kids with nature.
The screenings mark National Children’s Day (NCD) UK, a nationwide celebration of the rights of the child. Organised by the Save Childhood Movement, this year National Children’s Day was devoted to reconnecting children with nature.
In spite of the heavy showers and windy conditions, adventurers climbed as far was safely possible up the peaks of Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike to watch clips of the film.
Wendy Ellyatt from National Children’s Day UK said: “British children have never been more disconnected from nature as they are today. Time spent playing outdoors has halved in a generation, roaming ranges have fallen drastically, activity levels are declining and the ability to identify many of our most common species has been lost. This is likely to have a profound impact on how they will view the importance of the natural environment as they grow up.
“It’s vital that we address our children’s connection with nature and act now to get them back to the wild.
“Community screenings of documentaries are a rare thing in the UK. Getting a group of friends, neighbours or colleagues together to watch Project Wild Thing is a great way to spark off conversations and inspire people to get kids outdoors.”
Four adventurers, led by the John Muir Trust, scaled the height of Ben Nevis to find snow at the summit.
Toby Clark, walk leader, said: “Project Wild Thing campaigns for families and children to enjoy more time outdoors. It is great to take this message the length and breadth of the UK. The message works universally, from Ben Nevis – the UK’s Outdoor Capital – to Battersea Park in the Nation’s Capital. Enjoying the outdoors encourages a curiosity and care for nature that is good for us.”
Rob Bushby, of the John Muir Trust, said: “Ben Nevis is special, not just to its local community of Fort William, but to visitors from all around the world. The region is a crucible of adventure, with many facets and opportunities for connecting with nature. It’s an ideal location to screen Project Wild Thing and stimulate discussion about how we relate to wild places.”
The group met Lauren Wood, Education Officer at the Welsh Mountain Zoo at the summit. Having watched Project Wild Thing twice, Lauren was curious to know why there were four people dressed in ‘Wild Thing’ t-shirts. She said: “I wasn’t expecting to see Project Wild Thing here!”
Asked why getting young people outdoors and reconnecting them with nature was important, Lauren replied: “So they don’t grow up to be scared of everything. If they experience wildlife as children, they won’t become adults who trample on it or build houses everywhere.”
In Wales, Wild Network members Cath Prisk, Director of Outdoor People and Andrew Denton, leader of the Britain on Foot Campaign led the group of nine who tackled Snowdon.
Cath said: “Wow, that was an adventure! We got up this morning realising Snowdon would be ambitious. We had no idea. The weather closed in as we got to the car park, and didn’t let up for the first hour, but eventually we set up and made it to just below Crib Goch (which means Red Ridge) which is 923 metres (3,028 ft) above sea level – approximately 100 metres below the summit.
“It was glorious. As we watched Project Wild Thing the wind tried to steal the screen with a devilish gust and our popcorn blew away, but the group loved it. Once down the mountain we did a slightly more sedate screening – watching some clips at the National Slate Museum.”
Annabel Arden, 11, from Hackney, Londond said: “It’s been such a fun day! Being outdoors just makes you feel so wild and your imagination can just go further. The best thing about the walk despite the weather was the views. We could see for miles!”
Phoebe Prisk, 15, from Frodsham in Cheshire said: “The best thing about being up on mountains is the freedom.”
The Wild Network is calling on people of all ages, but especially children, to swap screen time for #wildtime. It also has a free wild time app full of plenty of ideas to get children outside and closer to nature.