Bush Club at Birdwings- How we evolved into adventure therapy

Narell Neville

Session type: Regular forum session
Session duration: 30 minutes

Key words: Adventure therapy


Birdwings Bush Club is for school-aged children from 4.5 – 10 years. Our focus is on connection to the environment and conservation of the native species in this area. It is a time to relax in nature, to play and therefore learn.
Our ongoing conservation project involves the children in the protection and preservation of the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly and it’s host vine the pararistolochia praevenosa, both considered endangered species in this area. Each week we plant a new vine and check the growth of the vines we have found homes for in the rainforest. Each child has a vine they care for and nurture. We also teach the children about native and non-native plants, bush tucker, toxic plants.
Our practices mentor children in developing an awareness of their natural environment, constantly learning something new about it each week. Children’s experiences become part of our learning stories, forming a tradition of sharing wisdom and advice based on actual learning events. In this way children teach children each week. The youngest have as much wisdom to share as the oldest. Children’s weekly or fortnightly immersion in the natural landscape across the term allows them to learn about seasonal changes, experience growth in the environment, reflect on previous learning and to develop an intuitive connection to the environment.
We maintain a predictable rhythm to our days so that we can manage our needs and plan our time, however every week the children decide the nature of their day’s activities. Our environment includes wild rainforest, dry bushland, rocky creek beds and sharing space with other creatures and the elements. No two days are the same and each day may present a challenge for children to overcome physically, emotionally or developmentally. Our task as mentors is to companion children through these challenges. We see some amazing growth in children’s physical strength, balance, agility, compassion, conversation, problem-solving, emotional resilience and reflection.

About the presenter/s

Birdwings began with Narell Neville visiting the rainforest in Guanaba for all-day plays with children on Fridays. In these early days Narell and the Bush Club children identified the Richmond Birdwing butterflies and, through discussion with the children, the Birdwing Butterfly conservation project was born. Birdwings now plants and monitors native pararistolochia vines, the only vine that supports the life cycle for this species. Narell’s wide work experiences and skills have emerged from many interests and positions, including hotel management, beauty therapy, foster caring and running a farm. Narell is botanical artist, storyteller and passionate conservationist.