Inspiring Generations

The Inspiring Generations project engaged with thousands of children from disadvantaged communities, providing them with direct experiences with nature in our wetland centres.

The challenge

Evidence suggests that children from economically disadvantaged communities are less likely to experience direct contact with nature than those from more affluent areas. Research shows that children from urban areas know more about the wildlife in zoos and on TV than the wildlife of their local ‘patch’. It would be a shame if we raise a generation of children that can identify a lion, but not an otter.

Providing outdoor learning opportunities for all schoolchildren from a young age is vital for their own health and social development, to connect children with their local wildlife and inspire a desire to care about nature.

The entry fees alongside the cost of transport frequently mean schools cannot partake in what are extremely worthwhile real life learning experiences.

Mr Michael Moore, Bloomfield PS, Bangor (Visit to Castle Espie)

What we’re doing

Outdoor learning experiences have long been a part of WWT’s educational offering but many schools from disadvantaged areas are unable to provide this opportunity for their pupils. Many of these children lack local green spaces whilst having a great deal to gain from these experiences. One of the key findings from the project was that children from disadvantaged schools tended to be more inspired from a day of outdoor learning than those from more affluent areas.

Every child needs nature. Not just the ones with parents who appreciate nature. Not only those of a certain economic class or culture or set of abilities. Every child.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, 2013.

To that end, our partnership with HSBC gave 75,000 schoolchildren from 970 schools in disadvantaged areas across the UK a free school visit to one of our wetland centres and a day packed with outdoor learning through exploration and discovery in a wetland habitat. They spent the day immersed in nature, and for some this was their first opportunity to visit this type of environment! The reach and impact of this project has been invaluable to many schools.

Key achievements

As well as providing an outdoor learning opportunity for thousands of pupils, which may have sparked a lasting passion for the natural world, the ongoing impact of Inspiring Generations continues. Throughout the partnership, we collected important research that validates the vital role of environmental education for future generations, and improved our outdoor learning provision for school visits through staff training, new learning facilities and the development of educational resources.

Delivered in partnership with HSBC

Inspiring Generations was a 6-year partnership between HSBC and WWT, inspiring thousands of children to enjoy, care about and take action for wetlands. HSBC were extremely supportive partners throughout the programme, remaining closely involved throughout project development and delivery.

Our longstanding partnership with HSBC has also supported a variety of other WWT projects – both in the UK and internationally – as well as huge numbers of volunteers donating their time to support our reserves.

HSBC is proud to have supported WWT’s successful Inspiring Generations programme across the UK. Thousands of children from disadvantaged backgrounds have had the opportunity to develop life skills and an understanding of nature in a wetlands environment.

Sue Alexander, Senior Manager of Environmental Programmes, HSBC

The legacy lives on with the great resources, materials and Learning Zone website and all the great lessons learned. Brilliant memories have been made!

Lizzy Pearce, Learning Manager, Arundel Wetland Centre

For more information