Wild Labs

Groundbreaking brand collaboration platform with the Wild Network

Three years ago we helped hatch the Wild Network (TWN) on the back of the film Project Wild Thing. TWN is on a mission to create new ways to help get kids outdoors, thriving in nature. Supporting families, schools, communities and their children to get more Wild Time (time outside) in their lives.

Time outdoors in nature is amazing for children (and adults!); Yet despite the overwhelming evidence to support the benefits of Wild Time and the amazing work of many organisations and individuals, time spent outdoors is declining.

A recent report by Unilever concluded that UK children spend less time outdoors than high-security prisoners. Meanwhile all the indicators of childhood wellbeing, from myopia to anxiety and everything in between point towards a worsening situation. And let’s not forget that if our children do not get outdoors in nature they are unlikely to care enough about it to protect it as adults. This is a massive deal as we see our natural ecosystems under threat in more direct and dangerous ways

Breaking down the barriers by creating beautiful solutions

A lack of outdoor play, learning and nature connection in childhood is not a simple, single issue, rather it’s a deeply held systemic problem. Over many years multiple barriers have been imposed on childhood; they are complex and interlinked, but their impact is profound.

For the last 3 years TWN has been exploring these barriers with a growing community of 30,000 plus. What is clear to us now is that we need to do much more to help people in their communities, schools and families to overcome these barriers. We need to equip people with the tools, ideas and confidence to not only raise awareness of the issue but to close the gap between awareness and action.

Wild Labs is a brand collaboration platform – it will bring together brilliant minds from diverse sectors including technology, business, research, health and wellbeing, design, outdoor play, nature connection, gaming, branding, storytelling and more together with children to participate in a pioneering innovation program.

Wild Labs launches with an initial focus on the issue that is consistently the most challenging for everyone we’ve spoken to in the last 3 years…

How to help kids and parents balance screen time (time with tech) and wild time (time outside)?

Tapping into the yin and yang of digital technology

While the benefits of technology in our lives are many, the signals of their darker side especially with children are getting louder and louder, and once you get beneath the shiny packaging, the emerging evidence is worrying.

Here’s a few from just the last month > Screen addictions harder to kick than heroin , children raised on high screen diets from a young age showing lack of curiosity and wonder for the world and what is happening around them , and the revealing insight that many tech innovators creating the products our children can’t put down, (including the late Steve Jobs) limit their own children’s access to technology for all these reasons.

At the same time when technology encourages kids to get outside, amazing things can happen. How can technology help (rather than inhibit) Wild Time, helping children build the awareness and tools needed to navigate a hi-tech hi-nature life?

This Wild Labs program will explore through a co-design and prototyping journey how a combination of creativity, technology, child-centered design, cultural and natural intelligence can develop new and inspiring ways to help get kids outdoors and better navigate and manage their technology and nature relationship.

We’re seeking pioneering brand partners, organisations and funders to collaborate and mobilise the project.

Why should you get involved in Wild Labs?

You will help enable a program of innovation where we will explore how technology can help (rather than inhibit) Wild Time as well as explore ways to help children build the awareness and tools needed to navigate a hi-tech hi-nature life.

Working with Swarm and The Wild Network to design and fund the innovation program, with opportunities to bring technology innovations, prototypes, employee talent, issues and even corporate responsibility challenges into the mix.

In return, you will work in new, exciting, accelerated ways, participate in a dynamic creative learning community and be a part of something with the potential to create game-changing new tools and techniques to support children to live a thriving hi-tech hi-nature life.

Wild Labs will be an open project, building new networks, creating rich content and communications material for all partners as we go.

If you and your organisation is interested in becoming part of Wild Labs please get in touch for an exploratory chat. [email protected]

Other Wild Lab missions themed around challenges relating to other barriers and issues are also being planned:

Free the streets – how we can create communities in which wild play can flourish free from the constraints and dangers of traffic?

Risky play – how can we use outdoor play and learning to help understand risk better, enabling children to make better decisions?

Under pressure – how we can make space for wild time amongst the busyness of our lives in schools and families?

Wild and Well -how can nature and the outdoors help our children cope with anxiety, and stress and support positive mental wellbeing ?