I have loved working on a lot of new projects this year. One I have thoroughly enjoyed creating is the Nature Kids program for young children aged 4-9. The last session for 2015 happened today - Wildlife Explorers.
Nature Kids Wildlife Explorers exploring Kilcoy Creek
The kids found over 20 species in Kilcoy Creek - many which indicated that the waterway is in good ecological health.
I started Nature Kids because I love seeing my kids out playing in nature - they are thriving in this environment and I wanted to share this experience to other families in the region. I also thought it would help my own kids to see the place through others eyes - a great way to deepen their knowledge and experience of place.
Maia on the Nature Kids River Explorers session.
I wove together a series of topics in the program to give kids a chance to explore art and ecology, habitats and watersheds, earth science, sustainable food systems and permaculture, natural building and ecovillage design, and mindfulness in nature.
The kids get hands on and dirty, they free range with a group of friends, explore what a sustainable life might look like, and are mentored by those who love to share their eco-passion. They connect with place, culture, nature, community and food.
These first sessions took place in our garden and around our ecovillage. In 2016 we'll be leading some further afield too, but we'll continue to hold them here. Crystal Waters is such a great place for the these types of activities. Firstly, there's no mobile reception, so hand-held devices get put away (the parents' too!). Secondly, nature is big here. In this valley you are surrounded by wild spaces, fresh tumbling water, forests to each horizon, big sky, incredible stars, amazing wildlife, the sounds of nature and the smell of nature. It is a full body experience. And thirdly, the ecovillage context allows kids to see how people are exploring sustainable ways to live that embrace permaculture ethics: earth care, people care, fair share.
The pilot Nature Kids program become reallypopular. Every workshop booked out rapidly and had a waiting list. People come from all around the region to play with their kids in nature, and the locals join in too.
A wonderful local photographer, Jody Gilchrist, came along to a couple of the events with her daughter (before she painfully broke her leg - not here!). She took some fabulous shots and created these slide shows for the Ethos Foundation as a gift.
In the Aboriginal Culture session of Nature Kids, the kids explored indigenous understandings of place through art, movement, song, dance, language and story with Wiruungga Dunggiirr http://wiruungga.org.au. He has dedicated his life to educating non-indigenous, as well as indigenous people, about his culture and was just so fabulous with the kids.