14th February 2012

Mission:Explore your Neighbourhood

Viv Alexander

Below is a guest post from Daniel Raven-Ellison of Mission:Explore on the new GeoVation Challenge – How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain together?Enter the GeoVation Challenge

I’m very excited to see the new challenge on GeoVation. It’s an exciting opportunity to bring about real change through geography. Thinking geographically is a powerful way to see patterns, make connections, present ideas and crucially, scale-up projects.

We have been lucky enough to win GeoVation awards twice. For us this has not only meant significant and important financial support, but also access to support, guidance and thinking that has helped us to push our solutions forward far more quickly than they would have done otherwise.

Our project, Mission:Explore, is deeply connected to the question that sits at the heart of the current challenge ‘How can we transform neighbourhoods in Britain together?’. At the GeoVation powwow 16 people identified 104 problems and 7 themes. One of these was “how do we provide safe environments for our children to be active?” and this problem sits at the heart of what Mission:Explore is about.  Children being active in their community has a wide range of benefits of course, not least their personal physical and mental well-being as well as that of their wider community.Dice-nav

Through Mission:Explore our solution is to encourage and inspire more children and families to play outdoors. We are working to do this through our series of children’s books and social website that includes hundreds of quirky outdoor activities to do. On our website children and families can pick missions , collect points and earn rewards for doing them. Some missions can be done anywhere but others need to be done in specific places.

539.cLast year we won funding from GeoVation to tackle the problem “How can we improve transport in Britain?”. Our work focusses on the National Cycle Network and using new functionality on the website to find ways to increase the number of children and families using the cycle paths. Focussing on 10 cities in England we’re going to be releasing 500 missions along cycle paths that support playful learning and with a mixture of reward types. Some rewards are just online badges but others will result in physical prizes. For this project the Technology Strategy Board’s Ideas in Transit project has been providing financial support, UWE is helping with research, Sustrans are providing logistical and cycle counter support and the dairy company Arla are supporting us with sponsorship through their energetic Kids Closer to Nature campaign. The website itself is built in partnership with the fantastic interactive agency, The Workshop, in Sheffield. Mission:Explore the National Cycle Network will be going live from the end of this month and will be in full swing before the summer holidays.Explore by wheelchair - girls

We’re currently looking for charities and public sector organisations that would like to use Mission:Explore to challenge children and families to discover new places and learn in creative ways. Later this month we will be launching private accounts which will allow schools to create missions that only their pupils will be able to see.

Our experience of GeoVation has been a powerful and inspiring one. I really recommend that you take part and see how far you can get. Good luck.

Mission:Explore are currently crowd funding their next children’s book, Mission:Explore Food. They are looking for people like you to contribute as little as £1 to help make the book happen. In return you can be illustrated into the book, request an experience day and much more. Visit Mission:Explore Food to be part of it.

Daniel Raven-Ellison
Mission:Explore