Imagine if you could re-wild a child. If you could give thousands of children a safe place to learn, laugh, watch or simply relax surrounded by nature - things you maybe took for granted when you were young? Well, we've found a way to do it! It's called the WildHub, and we'd love you to play a part in its creation.
Why do children need a WildHub?
In a recent survey by England's largest outdoor learning project, Natural Connections, it was found that only 8% of school age children in England get out of their classrooms into green spaces and yet 92% of schools said it improves pupils’ health and wellbeing and engages them with learning.
That's a scary statistic, but we're passionate about increasing the amount of time children, families and schools spend outdoors with nature. The WildHub will give us a way to do this in a safe and sustainable environment.
What is a WildHub?
The WildHub will have three main elements:
- an innovative outdoor classroom - with benches and a wooden chest full of activities (including bug viewers, binoculars, activity sheets and books). Not only will this act as an alternative teaching space for school groups, but it could also be transformed into a outdoor eating area. Designed and built by staff and students from the Architectural Association's Woodland Campus.
- a new wildlife exploration zone and play area for families - made from wood, this area will be wildlife inspired and in-keeping with the environment surrounding it. This will be somewhere children can get a sense of freedom and safely explore part of Dorset Wildlife Trust's Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve.
- a pavilion boardwalk that runs down to the river - encompassing as much of the original form of the tree as possible, this boardwalk will take you on a wiggly journey to the river Hooke. Designed and built by staff and students from the Architectural Association's Woodland Campus.
(Above) a visualisation of the pavilion boardwalk
Plus we have the perfect place to build it - and children waiting to use it - at our popular Kingcombe Centre (see photo below) set in the heart of west Dorset surrounded by the nationally important 180 hectares of Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve.
In a YouGov study with the Wildlife Trusts, it was found that 78% of parents are concerned that children don’t spend enough time interacting with nature and wildlife, so we know there's a need for the WildHub, we just need to build it!
Your donation or pledge could make all the difference and might even touch the lives of children you know and love. That's why if you live in Dorset, or visit Dorset, we'd love you to come and see what you helped to build - and experience the WildHub yourself!
A bit about us
We are Dorset Wildlife Trust, the largest wildlife conservation charity in Dorset. We've been committed to ensuring there’s a secure future for Dorset’s nature - its distinctive wildlife and amazing natural spaces - since 1961.
Each year we run hundreds of events and activities for children from our six visitor and conservation centres and forty-three nature reserves in Dorset, so a WildHub will help us achieve our long term aspirations regarding wildlife education and engagement.
The story so far
The idea for a WildHub has been creeping up on us for a few years now. Not only have we realised there's a need for something educational for schools and teachers, but children (and their parents) have also been asking for a free and accessible place to play. So the idea of a WildHub was a natural progression.
We also wanted to provide a safe environment which is immersive and gives children the confidence to explore and not be scared of the countryside and wildlife around them.
Children nowadays live in a technological world surrounded by mobile phones, tablets and apps, a world where the simple pleasure and excitement of being outdoors and learning about the natural world has been lost. We'd like to change that.
We know children love watching nature on TV, but we'd like to introduce them to the real thing. We'd like to give them somewhere they can get a little bit muddy (sorry mum!), where they can pick a buttercup and put it under their chin to see if they like butter (remember that?), and dip a net in a river to see what creepy crawlies live in its depths.
Technology is undoubtedly important, but so is an understanding and love of nature.
Thanks to our partners
We are very grateful for the support and work of Common Ground and Hooke Park in enabling this project. Common Ground is a Dorset based charity seeking to find imaginative ways to engage people with nature. Hooke Park is the Architectural Association's woodland site in Dorset.
Why the WildHub needs your support
We’re not going to lie, it’s a challenge securing adequate funding especially in such uncertain times. There’s fierce competition amongst charities to secure income from ever-shrinking funding bodies.
With your help we’ll ensure the WildHub provides a fantastic place for families and schools to engage with nature, view wildlife, simply relax in the fresh air, or eat outdoors – now, and way into the future.
Give more without spending more
If you're a tax payer you can increase your donation without spending a penny extra! When you come to donate or pledge just tick the box saying "I want to Gift Aid my donation" and for every £1 you give, we can claim a further 25p from HM Revenue and Customs.
Plus, we will still be applying for extra funding, and for every £1 you donate or pledge up to £9 could be released in additional grant funding – so you could be contributing a lot more to the build than you initially thought!
We've also able to offer some amazing rewards to thank you for your pledge of support. Below are just a selection, but check out the others in our rewards list...
- Just £15 will get you a yummy cream tea for one at our Kingcombe Centre Tearoom, surrounded by the beautiful Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve.
- For £40 you can enjoy a gorgeous lunch at our Kingcombe Centre Teamroom.
- £200 will secure you an exclusive guided walk for two of our nationally recognised Kingcombe Meadows Nature Reserve with one of our knowledgeable Conservation Officers
- A £500 pledge will secure you a place on one of our art, natural history or lifestyle courses from our 2017 programme at the Kingcombe Centre (including accommodation).
Be part of the project and help spread the word
If you appreciate the natural world and love being outside with nature (and would love future generations of children to appreciate it too) please donate or pledge and then please shout about the project to your friends and family by sharing on Facebook, Twitter or by Email.
A massive thank you from all of us here at Dorset Wildlife Trust and all the children who will use the WildHub!