FOUR YEARS AGO, a small group of people came together to explore how to change attitudes and behaviours around time spent outdoors for living and learning. We created Wild About Vancouver (WAV — pronounced “wave”), an annual weeklong outdoor education festival, and a movement to increase time spent outdoors, for the citizens of Vancouver and beyond. This article is an invitation for you to use similar means to accomplish the same goal in your community. Below, you will find our advice on how to get started, how to reach out to community members, how to raise funds, and finally, the lessons we have learned.
After years of working with teachers and students in informal outdoor education settings, Dr. Hartley Banack realized that students learning in traditional educational models spent limited amounts of time outdoors. Simultaneously, research confirmed his belief that decreases in time spent outdoors have negative impacts on physical, mental, and social health and well-being, as well as on environmental ethics and practices. This inspired Dr. Banack to gather the group of people who started WAV.
Unlike many festivals, Wild About Vancouver is decentralized. It does not have a central facility or location. Every participating organization hosts their lesson or event at their location. They alone decide most of the details, such as how many people can attend, who the target audience is, and the times at which their lesson or event will occur. All events and lessons occur during the WAV festival week, which happens before or after Earth Day each year. Anyone who wishes to get involved is welcome. WAV promotes all events and lessons on its website, through social media, and through radio and print advertising. There is an online calendar that the public can use to find the events that they might like to attend.
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