Keeping five children amused might sound like a effort of epic proportions but when the whole family loves nature and the outdoors it isn’t as hard as one might expect.
When Suzanne Simpson joined the RSPB nature conservation charity earlier this year she found out about their Wild Challenge which aims to engage families in helping wildlife and exploring nature. Suzanne and her children, who range from two years to 14 years old have already completed the bronze and silver challenges and are now going for gold. Their latest challenge is to spread the word about looking after the environment. Suzanne said: “I think all these little things added up make a huge difference. As a family we are really grateful that there are so many wonderful areas in which to enjoy nature in Edinburgh.”
Suzanne and her clan were excited to start the challenge, which is divided into two sections, and have enjoyed every moment of it – Suzanne is not sure who has enjoyed it the most, her or her two-year-old.
The first section of the challenge encourages people to make their gardens good homes for nature and other outdoor spaces wildlife friendly. Suzanne, with the help of her children, planted butterfly and bee gardens, helped build a pond, made a bird house and feeders, made a hedgehog house and built bug hotels. For the second section they transformed themselves into human weather gauges, explored areas on bug safaris, looked closely at the creatures in ponds, drew pictures, wrote poetry and sensed the world around them using all of their senses.
One of the things she has loved most about the challenge is that the whole family can get involved. She said: “The challenge teaches two very important lessons for children. It really encourages children and adults alike not only to help the animals in the environment but also how to do it. I have found The Holyrood rangers, Vogrie country park rangers and the Craigmillar park charity all helpful in setting up child friendly activities for the children to do to help with this.
“The challenge also helps the children to enjoy the environment around them and to stop and study things closely. They have noticed things they have not thought of before from the vast amount of bee varieties we have to the decline in hedgehog numbers.”
She hopes that other families will take part in the challenge, not only for their own enjoyment but also for the benefit of the environment. She said: “It is a fantastic way to get out and about with the children and experience new things together.”
“I want to thank all the people in Edinburgh who work hard to help protect the wildlife and to teach our children and I want to encourage everyone to enjoy the many wonderful outdoor areas Edinburgh has to offer. It can be Arther’s seat or a weed on the pavement. Lets all work together to help nature and teach others to love it.”