Ashleigh Phipps: Conscious Kids: Westfield Local Heroes 2018
Win-win as Ashleigh finds the perfect way to help kids embrace the outdoors
Ashleigh Phipps hit upon the perfect outlet for her desire to help children when she accepted a position at Conscious Kids two years ago.
The organisation offers a completely nature-based experience that gets Kiwi kids aged five to twelve outside.
Ashleigh says she “absolutely loves working with kids in the outdoors. The passion of those involved with Conscious Kids really excites me.”
During their outdoor educational programs, the children work collaboratively with local communities, families, parks and schools. They develop social competence in mixed aged groups and self-confidence through problem-solving and sensitivity to the environment.
There is a special focus on providing a safe and inclusive space for those with mental health and behavioural concerns or sensory sensitivities, who are likely to struggle in standard classrooms.
Ashleigh helps design the programs based on her personal experience with ADHD and has pushed the organisation to develop specialised youth skills and career development opportunities for its teen volunteers.
Children on the programs make their own choices within a framework of respect for those around them and the environment. They extend their thinking through skill-building workshops in areas such as marine biology, fishing, building shelters and fire craft.
Ashleigh's work creates a sense of place for children, youth and families within the context of the natural environment, while her infectious enthusiasm promotes positive engagement for staff and volunteers.
She says being a Westfield Local Hero means a lot because it shows that, no matter what age you are, you can make a real difference by standing up for what you are passionate about.
“I hope the award will inspire this new generation of teenagers to get more involved in community projects and initiatives.”
Conscious Kids will use its $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant to fund a part-time youth development specialist to provide hands-on learning and skills to the next generation of outdoor educators.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.