If we had to carry out a survey with parents asking them what their worst nightmare is, one answer that would surface instantaneously would be: weekends and holidays. Rightly so, while having more leisure time with their children is not only much-needed but also appreciated, finding ways and means to spend some, of what is better known as “quality time”, as a family on such a small island like Malta can be quite a feat.
Parents often scratch their heads in frustration whilst trying to find a worthwhile activity that will ultimately ignite their children’s curiosity and enthusiasm. The list of available options has been tried and tested several times: restaurants, a movie at the cinema, board games and picnics are just a few examples. But beyond these, has it ever crossed our mind to regularly explore the outdoors as an ideal family outing?
Parents will now have their mind at rest knowing that all their worries are sorted. Thanks to the three-book series STEPS, Maltese families (and foreigners!) can go on various trails around the Maltese islands and carry out a number of fun activities on site, which can also be continued at leisure at home.
But why STEPS? The answer is twofold: Primarily, STEPS is an acronym which stands for Sustainability Trails amongst the Environment, People and Surroundings. Secondly, STEPS also embodies a metaphorical point of view, since we hope that through this book, families will take the necessary steps to go outdoors and adopt sustainable lifestyles.
In fact, the main theme of sustainability revolves significantly around these three books. The lack of locally available trails that focused solely on sustainability was the central motivation that triggered us to fill this void and develop a set of walks that engage families in outdoor settings. Furthermore, research shows that the younger generation nowadays suffers from what Louv identified as the Nature-Deficit Disorder, since children are spending more hours indoors on their TVs and devices, rather than enjoying the natural environment.
Transforming the outdoors, not only as an adventurous endeavour but most importantly as a learning experience was made possible through the design of the Maltese Freshwater crab (aptly illustrated by Clinton) as a mascot that accompanies families throughout the walks. To fulfill certain criteria pertaining to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), each trail is presented with a number of sections, which include:
General information about the area where the trail is located.
The sustainability viewpoint gives the readers an insight into the sustainability of the location, together with the Sustainability Development Goals tackled during a particular trail.
The learning viewpoint covers the objectives and learning outcomes together with the map of the area, which indicates the start and finish of each trail.
The last part is then dedicated to various activities linked to that particular location that can be carried out together as a family. All activities initiate critical thinking and collaboration, together with the promotion of skills pertaining to writing, the arts, imagination and observation, amongst others.
We hope that you will enjoy exploring the number of trails that we have prepared in our first book and we look forward to seeing your pictures whilst carrying out these walks!