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Teenagers and children have so much to give and we offer them so few opportunities to make a contribution in a joyful and energetic way?- David Hawkins, co-founder of Wild Zones

Hooked on Nature is taking an active role in promoting Wild Zones because of their unique vision for encouraging young people to bond with nature, and their potential for promoting positive relationships between people of different generations and backgrounds. ?Wild Zones? refer both to a new land-use concept and a fresh approach to the way adults, children and teenagers spend time together.

Wild Zones are outdoor places that connect children and teenagers with nature through freely-chosen and self-directed ?hands-on? activities such as making art with natural materials, building tree-houses, dens, forts, and trails, digging holes, landscaping, earthsculpting ? and other forms of ?mucking around? using natural and recycled materials.  Teenagers and children will have a central role in creating and stewarding these innovative natural recreation areas, in collaboration with adults who are committed to a spirit of true play and joyful affection for the natural world. 

?When thinking about social problems, most people and institutions, including schools, are using a 'deficit' model. They are focused on what people don?t know and what their problems are?, says Wild Zone co-founder Karen Payne.

?Wild Zones are ?asset-based? and ?relationship-based? models that start from the abilities, interests and potentials of children, teens and adults, rather than their problems or needs.?  Instead of being designed by experts, Wild Zones will evolve gradually, according to the unique interests of the people involved and in response to the ecological and social possibilities of each site.

Co-founder David Hawkins says, ?Wild Zones challenge the prevailing tendency to view teenagers in general as a problem rather than a priceless social resource with valuable untapped energy.  It?s true that many adolescents are experiencing physical, emotional, and social difficulties. But a challenging, creative and visible role in public life could make a significant difference in the lives of adolescents ? including those that are experiencing and causing the most problems.  Wild Zones can have an impact on a wide range of issues because they involve people of all ages and backgrounds as co-creators of an innovative place and valuable community amenity. Teenagers and children have so much to give and we offer them so few opportunities to make a contribution in a joyful and energetic way?? 

Plans are currently underway for pilot Wild Zones at a 40-acre nature reserve (which is being ?re-wilded? after years as a golf course), two city parks, and a 12-acre community farm adjoining a middle school - all right in the heart of Silicon Valley. In Spring 2008, Santa Clara University?s Environmental Studies Institute will also pilot a degree-credit course to train ?Guardians? of Wild Zones ? adults and adolescents who create a playful and safe context for the activities in Wild Zones.

For more information about Wild Zones, please see www.wild-zone.net