National Park introduces inspiring scheme to connect families with nature

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An exciting new initiative launches today to help connect families with the joys of nature through fun learning activities.
Inspired by the “founding father” of the National Park movement, John Muir, the South Downs National Park is announcing a new scheme that will help families learn more about the amazing natural environment.
Whether at home, in the local park, or in the area of the National Park near where they live, families will be able to do a range of nature-based activities and work their way towards a Family John Muir Award.
The South Downs National Park Authority has teamed up with conservation charity John Muir Trust to run the prestigious internationally-recognised environmental award, which is focused on connecting with and caring for wild places.
The activities programme is fully adaptable for each family’s circumstances, whether they are shielding vulnerable family members, have access to green space or not, or going to work or school.
All people have to do over the next few months is 25 hours or more of fun activities which help them discover, explore and do something to care for a wild place, and then share the experience with others.
Those who sign up will be sent regular ‘ideas’ newsletters that will be full to the brim with activities to choose from.

Example activities include:
· Building a “bug” hotel in your garden.
· Growing something you can eat on your windowsill at home.
· Watching a wildlife video about the National Park.
· Going for a walk in the local park and surveying birds and other wildlife seen en-route.
· Nature-based craft activities such as making a wild snake bookmark.
· Finding how many different shaped leaves there are in your local green space.
· Sharing your discoveries with others by text, film, over the phone, or through social media.

Siân Jones, Families Outreach Officer for the South Downs National Park, said: “We’re really pleased to be launching this new initiative which will inspire people of all ages to connect with nature and take a more active role in caring for it.
“Along the way families will also discover more about the legendary John Muir and explore the wonders of the South Downs National Park – whether that be immersing themselves in its natural splendour or from the comfort of their homes. The beauty of this awards programme is its flexibility. So your wild place might be a window box, your garden, the tree outside your window, the plants that grow through the cracks in the paving stones, or the park around the corner. This is the opportunity to get to know more about the wildlife that is right on people’s doorsteps.”
Families who complete the 25 hours of activities will receive a special certificate to recognise their achievement. The initiative is being supported by the South Downs National Park Trust, the official charity of the National Park.

The award can be completed indoors or outdoors and participants should follow the advice of “restraint, responsibility and respect” on enjoying the National Park safely: www.southdowns.gov.uk/national-park-authority/our-work/coronavirus-covid-19-update/
For more details and to sign up to the initiative: www.southdowns.gov.uk/learning/john-muir-award/achieve-the-family-john-muir-award/

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