SBS TV’s Dateline recently aired an episode called “Kids Gone Wild” which looked at wild play as part of education. Centennial Parklands has been one of the industry leaders in wild play – but what exactly is ‘wild play’ and does it benefit kids?

Let’s start by watching the episode below. As you watch you’ll meet Jane Williams-Siegfredsen, a friend of Centennial Parklands who visited in 2014 to pass on her knowledge to our education team.

Jane is a successful author and long-term educator in nature play, helped establish the first Forest Schools in Britain, and now lives in the Denmark running the leading Danish Forest School training and consultancy organisation, Inside-Out Nature.

 

 

So what benefits does wild play provide?

There is growing evidence and research that highlights the positive impacts for children who spend time playing in nature. Some of these include:

  • development of gross and fine motor skills
  • developing social skills
  • development and formation of environmental awareness and stewardship for the environment
  • improving child well-being both physically and mentally
  • development of empathy and care for the natural environment and for each other
  • ability to engage their imagination and creative learning
  • learning how to take measured risks and gaining the benefits
  • opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving
  • engagement with the wider world including the cosmos, the climate and the earth’s elements

 

We go all nature play…

Centennial Parklands’ popular nature play programs have become a standard of our formal education and school holiday programs, and thousands of children have enjoyed the opportunities over the last few years.

Our Bush School program, based on education models such as Forest Schools and Nature Kindergartens, is a uniquely Australian concept in that it is based on the heritage and ecology of our unique Australian landscape.

Partnering with the Sydney Institute of TAFE, we have also developed an Australian-first education model, Early Years Bush Connections, which won the 2013 Green Gown Skills Award for the Sustainability category announced in late September.

 

Jane Williams-Siegfredsen takes Centennial Parklands Education Rangers through their paces in 2014

Jane Williams-Siegfredsen takes Centennial Parklands Education Rangers through their paces in 2014

 

And the best is yet to come…

Since 2013 the prospect of creating Sydney’s very first children’s wild play garden has excited many. The prospect is now rapidly becoming a reality with the support of The Ian Potter Foundation and many members of the community.

“This new garden will offer a wide range of nature-based learning opportunities for children and families, and greatly enhance and build the capacity of Centennial Park’s existing education programs.” – Janet Hirst, Chief Executive Officer of The Ian Potter Foundation.

Since generously providing $1.5 million in 2014, The Ian Potter Foundation has enabled this vision to become a reality. The Garden will provide an outdoor learning experience for children aged 2-12, of all abilities and backgrounds, enabling a ‘whole-of-life’ approach to education.

Extensive consultation was undertaken with children, schools, during the Centennial Park Master Plan 2040 and with a range of stakeholders (including: Association for Disability NSW, Australian Association of Environmental Educators, Kidsafe, Planning Institute of Australia, Touched by Olivia Foundation and UNSW Faculty of the Built Environment).

 

We’re almost there, but need your support! You can help us raise the final funds required to bring this garden to reality. Find out more.

 

Wild Play Garden - Centennial Park

 

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