9:00 AM09:00

Nurturing through nature: Building resilience and strengthening family and community relationships in and with nature


A one-day workshop examining the latest research and current understanding of how regular time in nature-rich spaces for play, rest and connection, aids the development of resilience in children, their families and communities.

With guest speaker, Niki Buchan, internationally recognised thought-leader in nature-based practice.

Plus sessions by Julie Frew, Paediatric Occupational Therapist; Helen Francis, Nature & Forest Therapy Guide; Emma Woods, Teacher & Nature-based Playground Designer; Anneke Beardsley, Social Worker; Tilia Mehrabi, Forest School Teacher.

This day will be of interest to educators, therapists, community workers and parents/carers.

International speaker, Niki Buchan, brings knowledge and expertise from her 35+ years of experience as an educator, researcher, consultant and author on the topic of nature-based practice. An opportunity to delve into the healing power of combining nature with nurturing, connected relationships to support well-being and mental health for children.

Local experts across the fields of health, education, early intervention and community settings will also expand on this theme, bringing personal and professional experiences of the extensive capacity nature and natural settings offer to build resilience, deepen relationships, promote healthy sensory-motor, social and emotional development, bring healing and unfold potential in our children, families and communities. 

This will be an inspiring day bringing new insights, and ensuring you have the chance to connect with others and with nature. Come and learn, be nourished and build relationships!

Registration includes lunch, morning and afternoon tea.

Speakers’ profiles

Growing in Synchrony

Julie Frew

Julie Frew is a paediatric occupational therapist, specialising in the use of sensory integration and sensory processing principles, particularly with young children who face challenges in relating and communicating. Julie is a passionate play partner and child-advocate, a lover of story, nature and of music; weaving and layering these elements into a therapeutic context. 

In her work with children she has practised closely in an interdisciplinary manner with Speech Language therapists, Musical Play specialists, Psychologists, Play specialists, Educators and, importantly, parents and carers.

In this talk she will share, from both research and experience, the development of the senses and how these unfold within the context of relationships and play. She will explore both the science and beauty of what it means to be in synchronous relationships – those within the systems of our own neurobiology, between the attuned carer and the child, between the child and the wider social world, and those between Papatūānuku and all living things.

Guided therapeutic nature walk

Helen Francis

Helen Francis is a certified Nature and Forest therapy guide. She will provide all participants the opportunity to take part in a therapeutic and relaxing, guided walk in nature, mindfully moving through the landscape in ways that cultivate 'in the moment presence' and the opening of all the senses. The invitations given are to cultivate a connected relationship, curiosity, direct experience, and close observation. 

Nature Connections: Communities Building Resilience

Tilia Mehrabi

Nature connectedness is emerging as an important construct that can help develop a more sustainable relationship with our natural environment; assisting in the enhancement of environmental stewardship and helping to build resilient communities. Drawing on her experience as a Forest School Teacher and Natural Play Worker and reflecting on community engagement work in the UK, Tilia will share various approaches that seek to connect people with nature in towns and cities, connect people with nature for well-being, and connect communities in nature’s beauty. A look at various UK-based nature projects that work in some of the most deprived areas, reducing inequalities and increasing resiliency.

Branching out: Nature's influence on one Social Worker's personal and professional growth

 Anneke Beardsley  

A photographic presentation that reflects on the integration of personal and professional ecological values and identity. From self-care for ourselves as workers, parents, and community members, to a social justice aim of empowering all individuals, families and communities, Anneke will share the small practical steps she’s taking to incorporate the benefits of nature into her own parenting community, and into her work as a Social Worker in community development and school settings. 

The role of nature and community for healing

Emma Woods

Sharing from a personal perspective on the healing power of nature and community, Emma will talk about community-based projects she’s been involved with over the last several years and how the combination of creating nature-rich spaces community has assisted the healing process following trauma and loss. From a playscape design perspective, she’ll discuss some of the elements she believes are important to have available for children’s play.

One more speaker to be announced…

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9:00 AM09:00

Tips for backyard nature play

Looking for ways to provide more outside play opportunities for your children or children in your care? This 2 hour workshop will give you ideas for nature-based play opportunities in a backyard setting. We'll talk about recommended plants and loose parts materials, share ideas about where to source these from and how to create opportunities for children to connect with nature in a backyard setting. There will also be time to share what you're doing and learn from others. Limited to 15 people. Held at Avebury House in Richmond, Christchurch.

A very informative and passionate teacher, who completely understands the relationship between children and nature. A brilliant workshop, offering great suggestions to incorporate natural play, into your own outdoor space and excellent value for money.

Register your interest here or get in touch,

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Niki Buchan Natural Learning workshops
9:00 AM09:00

Niki Buchan Natural Learning workshops

Woodland Escape is pleased to host international expert, Niki Buchan, for two workshops in Christchurch, catering to educators and others working with children from the ages of 4-8 years of age. Interested parents/caregivers are also welcome to register. Each workshop is $95. If you book both the morning and afternoon session then lunch will be provided. Workshops are held at Avebury House in Richmond. Please follow this link for registration.

Morning session - Building Resilience in Nature 5 spaces left for this workshop
Taking risks, choosing and accepting challenges are all part of building and increasing resilience in our children. Mental health concerns such as anxiety, ADHD, depression and trauma are on the increase in even our youngest children. In this motivational session we will share the researched therapeutic and healing benefits of children spending time in nature as well as the vital importance of the educator as the enabling, supporting and nurturing adult. We will explore the benefits of risk and strategies to help differentiate the bad from the good hazards and risks to be able to support acceptable risk, not just physical risk but also emotional and social risk. This will enable children to build resilience and become confident and capable risk assessors and risk takers both in the outdoor and the indoor environments.

Afternoon session - STEAM 7 spaces left in this workshop
Science, technology, engineering, maths as well as the arts, creativity, literacy, research and so much more happens when children of all ages are provided with a rich play environment. In this session we will explore how adults can provide such enriched environments physically as well as through adult interactions and time. We will look at simple, meaningful documentation with and for children rather than ‘about’ children where educators identify the learning and development observed in children’s play and make the importance of such play visible.

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