Running Wild was conducted in collaboration with Polyglot Theatre and Mahogany Rise Primary school to reveal social and ecological narratives of ‘place’. The project culminated in a collaborative and interactive art installation and performance in the children’s local reserve and examined how ecological values and stewardship can be communicated through art and science.
More broadly, Running Wild blended cultural and scientific methodologies to ask: ‘How can we reveal urban nature and provoke humanities intrinsic emotional connection with nature?’; ‘How can arts-science collaborations deliver ecological understanding of environmental adaption and resilience?’, and; ‘Can we reverse the perception that new technologies separate youth from nature, and instead use them as a conduit for environmental stewardship, engagement and hope?’
The research showed that there are significant benefits to kids participating in and contributing to nature. The study demonstrated improved learning capacities, wellbeing and leadership, particularly in some of the less academically focused students. To assess engagement, perseverance, optimism, connectedness and happiness, the EPOCH scale (Kern et. al. 2014) was completed by students before (N=30) and after (N=25) the nature intervention. Students reported higher levels of engagement and happiness scores after the intervention and many of the children had developed an appreciation of the natural environment and were optimistic about visiting their local reserve in the future.
The project included making a film with the children at the Cranbourne Botanical Gardens which featured animal costumes that were made by the kids.