Virtual adventures teach Kiwi kids about access and safety in the outdoors
Young New Zealanders will have the opportunity to explore three new virtual adventures on the popular Both Sides of the Fence website, thanks to a collaboration between the New Zealand Walking Access Commission and the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council.
The interactive and animated ‘Explore’ scenarios encourage primary and intermediate aged students to think about safe and responsible behaviour in New Zealand’s outdoors. The new series focuses on walking, camping and hunting.
New Zealand Walking Access Commission chief executive Eric Pyle said partnering with the Mountain Safety Council was a great way to connect the dots between outdoor safety and access culture in New Zealand.
"Both Sides of the Fence raises awareness of New Zealand’s outdoor access heritage. It introduces school students to multiple perspectives that illustrate the importance of mutual trust and respect between rural and urban New Zealand," Mr Pyle said.
"The new scenarios produced in collaboration with the Mountain Safety Council also tie in crucial safety messages, encouraging students to think about what precautions they might need to take before heading outdoors."
One scenario highlights the importance of checking the weather forecast before embarking on a day hike, while another focuses on crossing rivers safely. The third looks at safe, responsible hunting. All three emphasise the importance of asking landholders for permission to access their land.
Mountain Safety Council chief executive Mike Daisley said New Zealanders needed to learn about outdoor safety from a young age.
“We’re fortunate to have some of the world’s most stunning natural landscapes and wildlife right on our doorstep, and enthusiasm for the outdoors is part of the New Zealand way of life,” he said.
“We want to make sure that our kids grow up with a basic understanding of how to stay safe in the outdoors. The new scenarios on Both Sides of the Fence help to reinforce the five simple rules of the Outdoor Safety Code – plan your trip, tell someone, be aware of the weather, know your limits and take sufficient supplies.”
Both Sides of the Fence is a curriculum-aligned website that encourages students up to year 8 to think about the value of access to the outdoors as part of the Kiwi way of life in a fun and interactive way. It supports English and Social Sciences learning areas and EOTC activities, including school camps and field trips.
The New Zealand Walking Access Commission is also running the popular Top Outdoor Spot competition on the Both Sides of the Fence website again in 2016. The competition encourages students to snap photos, draw pictures and share creative descriptions of their favourite outdoor places to win prizes for themselves and their schools. Students and teachers can find out more about the competition and submit their entries on www.bothsidesofthefence.org.nz until 8 May 2016.
Photo caption: A scene from the new ‘Overnight in the Bush’ animated scenario on the Both Sides of the Fence outdoor education website.