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David Engwicht

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Want to get kids excited about walking to school?

Free Range Kids

Ashgrove, Queensland, Australia
Free Range Kids is a simple to adopt class-based program to encourage children to walk to school with an emphasis on adventure.
Introduction

What is Free Range Kids?

David Engwicht, Director
“It is fundamentally important for our children's psychological well being and resilience that we remove the bubble wrap and give them some independence. Free Range Kids enables parents to give their children increasing licence to walk on their own to school.”

David Engwicht, Director

Fewer children are engaging in exercise, as well as taking either public or private transport means to school. We need for a creative solution that considers both the parents anxieties around their children walking to school, as well as a way to encourage a habit of walking through entertaining means.

Free Range Kids is a class-based program that gets children to walk to school as far as they possibly can. They earn a point every time they walk to school and when they reach a predetermined level of points as a class, they receive a reward (which should always cost nothing and encourage activity) such as extra playtime or a planned walk to a nature reserve.

The simplicity of the program is what makes it extremely easy to implement. The instruction manual is one page long and once the programme is established it takes around one minute a day to run and administer as the teacher counts how many students walked to school that day, as the students age they can take over this task.

The students also receive a brochure with a license to negotiate with their parents. There is an open license (you can walk by yourself straight away) and a learning license (a negotiation between you and your parents).  Free Range Kids demonstrates that by facilitating conversation between child and parent they can understand that the benefits of walking to school outway the risks.

The psychological benefits for the child are notable. Research on this pilot demonstrate that by engaging in exercise before school they are more engaged and their behaviour improves. Also, through journaling of their adventures on the way to school this provided them with new stimuli for learning based on these independent experiences as they venture out into the world.

Free Range Kids helps increase a child’s mobility and teaches them to understand and develop their risk taking capacity which is a great step for parents to hand extra responsibility to their child.

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Innovation Overview
5 - 12
Age Group
-
Children/Users
1
Country
2016
Established
-
Organisation
1 637
Views
Tips for implementation
Anyone can start a Free Range Kids program and no resources are required to implement Free Range Kids.
Connect with innovator
David Engwicht
HundrED Review
Innovativeness

Free Range Kids is simple and low cost. It allows every child to participate and make small steps towards healthier lives.

Impact

Children who exercise before class are often able to concentrate more in class. Being 'free range' can have other life long benefits such as self confidence, resilience and encourages development of skills on how to manage risk.

Scalability

Free Range Kids is a low-cost program that can be started by anyone - a teacher, a parents or a headteacher. Once the program is up and running, it essentially runs itself.

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

Map

Spread of the innovation

Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Get started and build consensus
Anyone can start a Free Range Kids program but it's important to gain the support from all members of the school community.
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02
Consider the details
Decide on rewards and routes.
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03
Publicize the program
Share the idea with parents and children.
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04
Launch the program
Start earning those rewards!
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05
Maintain momentum
Consider how to keep children and families engaged after the initial excitement.
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