Push for outdoor citizen status for every child

Push for outdoor citizen status for every child

As national attention focuses on the payback of outdoor experiences for children, a leading academic takes centre stage to explain how risk management and adventure need to be embraced.

Professor of outdoor and environmental education at University of Cumbria’s Institute of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies, Heather Prince will share a passion that all young people should have access to potentially life changing activities.

The respected author and lecturer is an acclaimed authority on the subject and will be sharing the success stories, along with highlights from learning and research in her keynote lecture at Ambleside campus on March 19.

At a time when national bodies are acknowledging the links between nature, health and well-being, an important DEFRA landscapes review proposed a ‘night under the stars’ for every child.

Prof Prince explained the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom continued to call for progressive outdoor experiences and there was a sector-wide campaign to make every 18-year-old an ‘outdoor citizen’ by 2035.

She added: “Schools are under a great deal of pressure to fulfill curriculum and performance targets. Outdoor learning is not mandatory and can be marginalised.

“We are particularly keen to reach children who would not normally have access to these activities at school, or through other organisations.

“My research has shown the value of confident and committed teachers who embrace and encourage outdoor learning. We hope a new Ofsted Inspection Framework will support them in more holistic approaches with space and time for outdoor learning.”

Her lecture, which will highlight how a risk benefit approach can lead to widespread gains, is expected to attract academics from research hubs, schools and community groups, along with practitioners and partner organisations.

Currently working with Eden Project North, Prof Prince is helping to develop a place-based outdoor curriculum to transform young lives in Morecambe Bay, bringing life-changing potential.

Meaningful outdoor experiences not only bolster physical and mental health and happiness, relationships are forged with nature, and care and concern fostered for the environment and fellow human beings, said Prof Prince.

She added: “Exploration, adventure and learning in a different environment bring curiosity and critical thinking.”

Professor Heather Prince’s public presentation is being held at The Percival Lecture Theatre on Thursday, March 19, from 4.30 to 7pm. The university’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Julie Mennell, will be welcoming guests.

Those wanting to attend, please contact rsvpevents@cumbria.ac.uk