Knowsley Safari launched Wild and Well last Autumn, a woodland based school program for children aged 4-6 years. Delivered between October 2021 and March 2022, the sessions were free to access for children from Knowsley, which is one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK.
The sessions focused on play and exploration in a native habitat. Children got to explore the woodland while puddle jumping and playing in mud stations along with nature crafts and story times. The experience aimed to connect children to nature and improve their wellbeing.
Removing the barrier of cost and focusing on native species and habitats was a strategic decision to encourage accessibility to nature for those locally who may not otherwise have access and to re-frame the safari offering as more than a ‘day out’ visitor attraction.
Over 640 children participated in total, with strong positive feedback from schools. There were statistically significant differences in the number of children who enjoyed jumping in puddles after the session, compared to before, and more than 90% of teachers strongly agreed the sessions improved the children’s connection to nature.
Splash suits and wellies were provided for the children to use during their visit, 85% of groups used the splash suits and 39% of groups used the wellies. Overall, 95% of teachers made a positive comment regarding the availability of these items for the children.
The sessions have since been extended and offered to 7–9-year-olds in a Wild and Well Spring into Adventure Program, as Knowsley Safari looks to build its reputation for holistic nature experiences without financial barriers.
Knowsley Safari submitted this project to the BIAZA Awards Education category in 2022 and won a Gold award.