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Charles sets youngsters a half-term nature challenge

By PA News

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The Prince of Wales is encouraging children to take up his half-term challenge and discover the natural world.

Charles has set inquisitive youngsters six tasks, from spotting birds and planting seeds to decorating pebbles, stones or shells during the school break next week.

In a video message to launch the project, he admitted he was “frustrated” about not being unable to get outside as much as he would like during the pandemic, and how it had been “an incredibly hard year for everyone”.

But he went on to say: “So, here’s a challenge for you. While you have a little time off from all your online learning, can you encourage your family to go out with you to take a really close look at the wonderful things nature is now doing, and how the same patterns occur over and over again?”

He added: “See for instance, how many birds you can spot; plant the seeds left from cooking vegetables and see how long it takes them to sprout; decorate pebbles, stones or shells.

“But whatever you do, look closely. Notice the way nature organises everything so precisely, using the sorts of shapes I’m sure you have drawn in school with a pair of compasses – circles, spirals, five-pointed stars.

“I promise you, once you start looking at nature and searching for these common shapes, you will see them everywhere. And that’s because they are so useful to nature.

One of the challenges to spot birds (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)
One of the challenges to spot birds (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

“The more you look at every leaf or seed or feather, you see that they have so much in common; they all work in the same way to keep life going.

“And don’t forget that we have those patterns in us too, which is why it’s so important to spend this time looking at how nature works – it teaches us how we work too.”

The half-term challenge came about after Charles, a life-long environmentalist, was approached by one of his charities and asked to consider encouraging children to explore outside and engage with nature.

The project will run from Monday to Saturday and involve six of the prince’s patronages – Garden Organic, Elephant Family, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, The Wildlife Trusts and the Prince’s Foundation.

Other tasks over the week include drawing an elephant and using leaves as the ears or creating a garden scene on a plate using materials from the garden, the park or kitchen cupboards.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts, said: “We know how vitally important establishing and maintaining a connection with the natural world is for our mental and physical wellbeing.

“Plenty of studies have proved the positive impact that time spent outdoors can have for young people.”

The daily tasks will be set via Charles’ Clarence House Instagram page and the challenges have been curated to ensure they are accessible wherever children may live, and can be carried out locally, with any travel on foot only.

Participants can share their creative efforts in the form of drawings, photographs or even short film, online.

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