As we all know, kids are great at multi-tasking – watching TV while doing homework, talking while eating, tidying their room while playing on the game station… hmmmm, well maybe not the last one!

Well, our Wildlife Watch group proved themselves to be amazing multitaskers at their January session, by litter picking whilst orienteering in Hardwick Park. This wasn't some mean task we gave them to get them out on a cold January morning. They actually chose to do it because they wanted to make their park look nice whilst having fun at the same time.

Back in December we ran a consultation exercise with the group using wooden discs with activities painted on them in order to find out what they wanted to be included in their programme for 2015. These discs are about the size of a small pizza with some wonderful pictures on them depicting everything our Wildlife Watch group could dream of doing. The children voted for their favourite activities using sticky stars, and the activities with stars on them were written into their programme. This ensures everyone has a say about what they do and develops a sense of ownership over their group.

Needless to say, litter picking and orienteering were two of the activities the children chose to do. We split the families into two groups and gave each group a map, a list of different orienteering posts to find, two bin bags, gloves and seven litter pickers. Then we set them the task of not only finding all their group’s orienteering markers, but collecting the most litter as well.

Families really got into the competitive spirit and children were as excited about collecting litter as they were about finding the orienteering posts. Even when that meant getting carrier bags from half way up trees and digging plastic bottles out the mud! They were determined to rid the park of every bit of litter and didn't want to go back for refreshments until they had collected every bit of rubbish they could see.

Both groups did fantastically well and each collected a huge bag full of rubbish. Each team received prizes of marshmallows and enjoyed hot chocolate and biscuits as a reward for all their hard work. To be honest though, I think if you asked any of the young people, the opportunity to be out in Hardwick Park on a sunny winter morning helping to make Hardwick a better place for wildlife and visitors, was reward enough.

By Jo Rawson

(Volunteering and Community Involvement Manager, National Trust, Hardwick)


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