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  • Note: this is a past research project that is now complete.


    The Wellbeing through Integrated Learning and Development (WILD) is a program from the Centre for Adolescent Health (Royal Children's Hospital), in partnership with The People and Parks Foundation. 

    WILD gives you the chance to enjoy different outdoor adventure activities like bushwalking, camping, kayaking, caving and mountain biking. You'll get to try new things, see new places and make new friends. We also hope you'll get a chance to develop your self-confidence, feel challenged, experience success, and discover new things about yourself.

    It's all about developing young people's strengths and abilities through outdoor activities. While many young people have opportunities to focus on physical health (through sporting activities and school P.E.), there are far fewer opportunities to work on 'mental fitness'. The activities we do in WILD are designed to be fun and to help build confidence, independence and good friendships.

    WILD adventure


    Who can benefit from WILD?

    WILD is for young people dealing with the ups and downs of daily life. We know that many young people experience difficulties in life, such as:

    • living with an illness
    • caring for an unwell family member
    • just coping with the hassles of being a teenager.

    Maybe you're feeling a bit lost, having troubles with friends or family, feeling a bit lonely, or just having a hard time with day-to-day hassles. Maybe you're doing just fine, but would simply like to try something new. Either way, if you're up for a challenge and some fun, then WILD might be for you.

    We reckon that young people are too often told there are things they can't do. In the WILD program we encourage young people to focus on their abilities - we're more interested in what you can do rather than what you can't!

    The program is open to young people between 12 and 21 years old. There are only 10 places available in each WILD group.

    What will we be doing?

    WILD runs over 8 weeks. It involves a one-day adventure outing, a two-day camping trip, a four-day camping trip, and 5 two-hour sessions spread over the 8 weeks. The two-hour sessions will take place after school (4:30 - 6:30 pm) at the Centre for Adolescent Health (in Parkville). The one-day outing and the two-day trip will take place on weekends. The four-day trip will run from a Thursday to a Sunday. This means you might miss 2 days of school. During the program you will be involved in a range of activities, including games, group discussions and outdoor activities. The outdoor activities may include bushwalking, mountain bike riding, kayaking, caving, abseiling and camping.

    But I've never been camping before and I'm no good at kayaking or mountain biking.

    Great! Then you should definitely come along! You don't need to be a super athlete to join in - we aim to cater for all abilities. We'll teach you all the basics to get you going, but the real fun comes from trying something new and challenging yourself.

    Will I know anyone else there?
    You could check with your friends and ask if any of them are coming along. But it's also a great opportunity to meet some new people and make some new friends. Many of us feel a bit nervous meeting new people, so we do our best to make sure everyone feels welcome.

    How much will it cost?
    Nothing! That's right…it's free. We will provide transport on the trips, food, use of outdoor gear and any accommodation costs. We can do this because of the generous support of our partners: The People and Parks Foundation, the R.E. Ross Trust, Cadbury Schweppes, the Mazda Foundation, and Anaconda. While there is no charge, we do ask just two things of you. The first is that you fill in some questionnaires to help us evaluate and improve the WILD program. The second is that you do your best to make it to all parts of the program. As we only have a very limited number of places we would like to offer them to people who are available for the whole 8-week group.

    What are the Dates?
    We try to run one program each term (4 times a year). However in 2008 we will not be running any WILD programs, as we are working hard to make improvements and secure funding for future programs. Please still feel free to contact us for more info (contact details below).

    Sounds good so far. So is it just like a holiday then?
    Hmmm. A good question. While the program is designed to be fun and engaging, it also has some more serious goals. Our aims are to:

    • encourage young people to explore and express their abilities
    • provide opportunities for leadership, genuine responsibility and decision making
    • give teenagers a chance to challenge themselves socially, emotionally, mentally and physically
    • help build genuine friendships and develop respectful ways of relating to others
    • assist young people to reflect on their experiences

    We hope that young people will enjoy the program and along the way learn something about themselves and others.

    What else do I need to know?
    Hopefully the following list of QuickFacts will answer all your burning questions.

    • the groups will include staff with skills and experience in outdoor education, teaching, first aid and adolescent health and wellbeing. As much as possible we'll try to keep out of the way, leaving young people to lead the program.
    • for each of our adventure trips, you will be picked up from the Centre around 9:00am by mini bus and dropped back again by 5:00pm. You'll need to make your own way to the Centre, but we may be able to help out if you expect to have transport difficulties.
    • all meetings will take place in our group rooms at the Centre for Adolescent Health, located at 8 Gatehouse Street, Parkville.
    • all group equipment will be supplied (tents, backpacks, kayaks, life jackets, mountain bikes, helmets, etc). A list of personal gear to bring (such as suitable clothing, drink bottle, sun hat, sunglasses) will be provided.

    How do I join up?
    To join our WILD program you will need to complete an Application Pack. Application Packs are available by phoning or emailing us using the details given below.

    Once we receive your completed application we will contact you by phone. We will then make a date to meet up with you at the Centre sometime during the two weeks before the program starts. This is so we can meet you and you can meet us. We'll chat some more about WILD and ask you to fill in one of our surveys. The meeting will take about an hour.

    Your completed forms need to be back with us before the closing date.

    If you'd like to find out more about WILD, please contact us by phone or email (contact details below) and we will do our best to answer your questions. 


    Ian Williams


    We would like to acknowledge the generous support of the following WILD Partners

    WILD partners