A play worker at The Children’s Centre has been short-listed for a BBC Countryfile Magazine award. Play Development Officer Chris Gregory is one of only five nominees in the running for the Professional Wild Hero accolade which is open to nominations from the UK and Isle of Man. The winner will be chosen by public poll on www.countryfile.com – the voting deadline is noon on Sunday August 31.
The Professional Wild Hero Award is for someone who works with children that has gone beyond the call of duty to open youngsters’ eyes to the natural world around them, and is open to teachers, social workers, healthcare professionals, and play workers. It is part of the Octavia Hill Awards scheme which are organised by the National Trust, the Wild Network and BBC Countryfile Magazine. The awards celebrate people who work to protect and enhance green spaces for wildlife and local communities. This year, the organisers are looking for ‘heroes’ who have helped children and young adults connect with the outdoors and wildlife – passing on their own experience, enthusiasm and love of nature. Many studies have shown that such connections with nature – especially in towns and cities – are essential for mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
Chris has been nominated for his work with The Children’s Centre’s Out2Play scheme which encourages children to interact with the outdoors through play. He is delighted to be short-listed, but regards it as a positive reflection on the Out2Play team and The Children’s Centre in general, rather than a purely personal nomination. He added:
“It would be great to bring this award back to the Isle of Man as a reward for everyone who has contributed to Out2Play. Winning this award would also highlight the fantastic opportunities which the Isle of Man provides for children.”
Some voters have already left positive comments on the www.countryfile.com website in support of Chris, with parents describing how he and the Out2Play scheme have inspired their children to get outside and have fun, and spend less time playing computer games.
In addition to being Play Development Officer, Chris is also The Children’s Centre’s International Play Association Correspondent. The IPA is an international non-governmental organisation founded in 1961 which aims to protect, preserve and promote children’s right to play as a fundamental human right. Chris also devised a ‘March2Work’ scheme in which he encouraged both children and adults to spend the month of March travelling to work using children’s toys and games. Leading by example, in 2012 and 2013 he commuted to work every day during the month by space hopper, pogo stick, and skipping to name but a few of the modes of ‘transport’ he used.
The full link to the voting page for the Professional Wild Hero award is