Octavia Hill Awards: The Wild Organisations shortlist
This year, the Octavia Hill Awards are looking for heroes who have helped children and young adults connect with the outdoors and wildlife – passing on their own experience, enthusiasm and love of nature. We want to celebrate the people who have made a real difference to the youngsters around them – helping to inspire a life-long love of the outdoors and wildlife.
The Wild Organisation award is for a group or organisation, large or small, that has championed the importance of reconnecting children with nature. Voting closes midday Sunday 31st August. Here are the shortlisted nominees.
Run by Terri and Daniel Harrison, Nature Nurture helps children from disadvantaged backgrounds, to find fulfillment and solace in the wonders of the natural world. The organization prides itself on helping to educate children about wild places and tackling vulnerability. Working in partnership with social care and education agencies, their dedicated team run sessions in natural environments, where beneficiaries can play, challenge themselves and explore with the attuned support of specially trained staff, offering a staff-to-child ratio of 1:2. Changing the lives of vulnerable children and families in Aberdeen, they work with more than 120 children and young people and provide training for 30 professionals each year. One teacher who nominated Nature Nurture said: “I had a child in my class who once told me that "Good families don't go outside." When I met him two years later on a Nature Nurture programme, the same child talked excitedly about minibeasts and the natural world."
ATE Superweeks is a completely volunteer led organization that passionately motivates young people to fully embrace and experience the great outdoors. It strives to promote the incredible influence that nature can have on the development of young people by inspiring children to learn valuable lessons outside of the classroom. They provide child-focused holidays in a secure countryside setting, which enables children to participate in joyful outdoor activities, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Children are re-connected with nature through exploring and participating in sing songs around the campfire, as well as learning about different plants and spotting wildlife. All activities are over-seen by intensively trained volunteers, who have been championed by a nominator for having ‘’such an unwavering enthusiasm’’ for what they do. The organization also runs a sponsorship scheme founded in order to support children from disadvantaged families which has been running for over 50 years.
Froglife is a conservation organization whose work is instrumental to the conservation and protection of native amphibians and reptiles. Their Toads on the Roads project helps to prevent amphibian fatalities and has been running for over 20 years, thanks to the support of their truly dedicated volunteers. Over its time, the organization has initiated a whole host of regional and national projects and has been highly successful in its attempts to reconnect children with nature. Most notably, through its Green Pathway project, funded by the BBC Children in Need, Froglife provides young disadvantaged people with opportunities that inspire and empower them to partake in positive wildlife orientated activities. Their work "clearly demonstrates that it is championing the importance of reconnecting children with nature, and moreover they are focusing on those children and young people that wouldn’t normally access these opportunities because of social, cultural or financial barriers", says a nominator.
Peek Project work specifically with young people aged 5-25 living in 12 exceptionally vulnerable communities in the East end of Glasgow and North of Glasgow. The organization strongly stresses the outside world’s positive influence on the wellbeing of a young person and so strives to maximize outdoor opportunities for young people. With all this in mind, they have made it their mission to reconnect children with nature and they do a fantastic job. Peek’s play rangers work to help children and their families connect with nature through running various exploratory activities. The organization also run 3 family events every year, which take place in public parks across the country, to provide fun for absolutely everyone. A nominator highlights the importance of their work, stating that they "champion the importance of children reconnecting with nature and lead them to experiences with nature they will never forget’’.
The Friends, a team of two members of staff, receive support from a dedicated board of trustees and 3,000 volunteers in order to manage and conserve the Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Thanks to the conservation efforts of The Friends, the Park is home to a bustling population of rare and endangered plants and wildlife. Most significantly, The Friends have helped to establish the Cemetery Park as a safe and wonderful place of education for the 7,500 schoolchildren who visit it each year. They also offer monthly free training on topics concerning the management of habitats for biodiversity, giving anybody a chance to become a volunteer. The Friends have been praised by a nominator for being able to "ensure that the generation who grow up to become the next policy and decision makers see the natural world as something of importance and value.’’
VOTE FOR THE WINNER OF THE WILD ORGANISATIONS AWARD
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