Save Wild Ground: Nature Play for Bushfire Recovery
I’ve been finding it so hard to put into words the devastation in my own backyard, in our community, and across Australia. And on a personal level, I’m really struggling with the reality that as a result of the Blackheath fire, Wild Ground is now in a very vulnerable situation.
I have an idea that will mean we can keep our doors open AND support bushfire affected children and families in our Blue Mountains community.
To make it happen, I need to ask for your help.
I’m Danielle, owner of Wild Ground and mum of two adventurous and wild young children.
Locals know our much-loved Wild Ground outdoor programs located in the Blue Mountains, NSW. We facilitate nature immersion and nature play sessions aiming to reconnect children and adults back to each other, themselves and nature – away from the distraction of screens.
Our beautiful bush property in Blackheath was affected by the Grose Valley fire. While the RFS, Fire and Rescue and SES did an incredible job and saved my home, on New Year’s Eve one of our Wild Ground play spaces was burned and the other was covered in fire retardant. Until clean up happens, we aren’t able to run any of our usual Wild Ground bush school, holiday adventures or professional programs onsite. The fire risk and hazardous air quality during December also meant all council reserves were closed – so sessions were cancelled for the end of term four and all of the school holidays.
The combination of smoke, fire damage and extended loss of income has left Wild Ground financially crippled and me struggling to keep my family’s head above water.
The council reserves are now open, and some of our Wild Ground families have been asking us when we will resume business as usual – we’re all keen to get back some of the normal rhythms and Wild Ground Educator Andrea and I are bursting with ideas for how to help our Wild Ground families heal and reconnect with the bush.
We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to find a way through. We’ve been trying to find an alternate private space for some programs. We have suspended as many overhead costs as we can, but Wild Ground is a small (tiny) business. We have never been here to turn a profit, but running the programs on such a shoestring has left us really vulnerable.
I am not ready to give up on Wild Ground. With the future of the climate hanging in the balance, we’ve never needed the opportunity for children to connect with nature more.
Nature play is inherently therapeutic and our additional skills/resources in facilitation, art making, nature games and storytelling mean we can respond specifically to bushfire recovery. We would love to be focusing all our energy on this right now.
So here’s the plan:
Our #KeepThemWild fundraiser.
Your donation will pay for a child to attend a Wild Ground session/program AND contribute to keeping our doors open in the process.
Setting up a pay-it-forward style campaign helps us to cover costs and fill programs, while easing financial strain on fire-affected local families enabling them to access these vital healing programs. Every family in the Blue Mountains has been affected in some way by these fires. Children need the space and opportunity to process these experiences, and one of the best places to do it is playing wild and freely in the healing magic of the bush.
Can you pay it forward by gifting a child access to Wild Ground’s programs and help save our business?
How it works:
Your donation will be split 50/50, with half going directly to cover the cost of a Wild Ground child attending our program, and the other half towards Wild Ground’s urgent bills to help us keep our doors open and enable us to offer the programs.
$30 pays for a nature play session (one child)
$90 pays for a bush school session (one child)
$120 pays for a four-week playgroup program (one child)
We really want to get past this so we can keep serving our community, supporting children and families to nurture strong connections with nature and with each other.
Thank you for your time in reading this, and for considering helping Wild Ground. I’m so grateful to you all.
Don’t know Wild Ground?
Bush school and playgroup are both founded on the principle of
forest schooling and operates entirely in the bush – rain, hail or shine. It
provides an opportunity to unplug, slow down and learn in the magical settings
of bush creeks, trails and clearings. Wild Ground teach children age
appropriate bushcraft principals and nurture connections with each other and
with nature, fostering stewardship of the earth and inspiring action for a
healthy, sustainable future.