Our vision is for all kids to have every opportunity to experience, love and look after nature.
Kids In Nature Network is a catalyst for rebuilding the connection between our kids and the natural world. We exist to link up key initiatives that promote nature play in order to enhance children’s well-being and development, promote creative play and facilitate connection to the natural world. We are based in Melbourne, Victoria.
We act to empower, connect and grow a movement of individuals and organisations that gets kids back outside.
Our network is diverse with leaders from health, education, environment, urban planning, outdoor recreation, community, government, business, arts and many other sectors.
Kids in Nature Network provides a unique meeting place for collaboration and capacity building through facilitating the sharing of experiences, ideas and knowledge amongst our members and allies.
Kids in Nature Network was founded in 2011 by Dr Cecile van der Burgh, Dr Dimity Williams and Sanne de Swart, with the wonderful support of Christine Joy and Emily Barrows from the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. Since2011, we have held a large number of seminars, workshops, networking events and conference talks. We covered a diverse range of topics; from the health benefits of nature play, to connecting kids with nature in the city, through to Indigenous perspectives and using song and sculpture to connect to nature. All of these events were booked out within days by word of mouth through our network. Most events are held in the beautiful surrounds of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and Cranbourne.
Facilitators have included Jason Clark from Minds At Work and David Seignior from Play Think Inc. Events featured many leading local and international speakers. Christine Joy and the team from RBG ensured we had novel, nature based ways of networking during breaks - from ‘barefoot networking’ in the grass, to building sand castles together - yes, even the men in suits!
In 2014 we organised our first Nature Play Week. Nature Play Week celebrates initiatives of all shapes and sizes that reconnect kids with nature and the outdoors. The week was developed collaboratively by individuals and organisations involved in the Kids in Nature Network.
Nature Play Week 2019 featured over 150 events staged by more than 70 groups across Victoria and beyond. 15,000 people participated. Thanks to everyone who staged and event or volunteered their time, energy and expertise. Without you, Nature Play Week would not exist!
Nature Play Week, Kids In Nature Network’s signature initiative received the following accolades:
National Finalist - Event of the Year 2017, Parks and Leisure Awards of Excellence.
Winner - Event of the Year (VIC/TAS) 2017, Parks and Leisure Australia Awards of Excellence.
Finalist Premier's Sustainability Awards 2016 (Community).
Winner People's Choice Award 2016 (Community).
All activities promoted or organised by the network will have the well-being of children involved as a shared first shared priority;
All activities promoted or organised by the network foster stewardship for and look after the well-being of the intrinsic natural and cultural values of places and our environment as a first shared priority;
The network values collaboration between people and initiatives over competition;
The network values equal opportunities and input for people from all backgrounds and cultures;
The network values sharing and learning. It will foster capacity building across our entire network and seeks to create leverage for all individuals, families and groups involved;
The network values long-term outcomes over short-term gains;
We believe diversity (both in nature and in ways to get kids outside) is good and builds resilience;
Key drivers and/or funders of the network will not have a vested interest in a business, initiative or activity which is in conflict with our values;
Respect for others, other opinions and different ways of doing things.
Kids In Nature Network started as a seminar and networking series founded in 2010 by three fellows of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership based in Melbourne, Australia. Interviews were held with over 40 community leaders working to connect kids and nature in Victoria to identify key needs. These individuals hailed from different sectors, including the health, environment, education, community and arts sectors. We invited them to four workshops to collaboratively develop our vision, mission, values and strategy.
Since then, the network has grown into a powerful collaborative force that spans multiple initiatives, organisations and sectors.