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Mini-beasts, Stick Figures and Autumn Colours

Wednesday 18th October 2017

Play Wild, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Wildlife TrustPlay Wild, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Children from Wingerworth Wonder Years Nursery and Birdholme Children's Centre in Chesterfield joined Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on a trip to The Avenue Washlands Nature Reserve earlier this month.

All part of the Trust’s Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) supported Play Wild - a project designed to look at and support how families use the outdoors, made possible thanks to National Lottery players. 

The children swept the long grass for bugs and found all sorts of interesting mini-beasts which they looked at through their magnifying glasses. They then made stick figures, looked for autumn colours and made bird feeders and thanks to lots of rain in the run up to the day, they got to jump in lots of puddles!

Play Wild launched last March with a £46,700 grant. The project is encouraging families from urban areas across the county to use green spaces for informal wild play, like den building and tree climbing. The idea came about after research showed that many parents, especially in towns and cities, don’t take their children to wild places; often because they didn’t know about them, or because they weren’t confident about knowing what they could do there. 

a project designed to look at and support how families use the outdoors, made possible thanks to National Lottery players. 

The partners in the Play Wild project are Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Eastern Moors Partnership, Natural England, National Trust, Peak District National Park Authority, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, University of Derby and the RSPB. Between them they are providing 53 wild play events across the region between June and November this year. Urban areas targeted by the partners include Sheffield, Nottingham, Chesterfield, outer Manchester and Leek. The University of Derby have set up an evaluation methodology to measure the project’s outcomes and impact; if successful, Play Wild may be rolled out across the UK. 

Play Wild events hosted by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust focus especially on helping families in Chesterfield, Ilkeston and Derby with children under five – an age group reported as being underserved by suitable events in Derbyshire. Local children will also help to develop a Play Wild logo, which will be used to signpost areas where imaginative outdoor play is encouraged.

Project Officer, Marc Whitlock, of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said: “The day was a great success, the children said they loved their afternoon in the sunshine exploring nature.”

To learn more about the Play Wild project, please visit