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Discover the why, the how and the what on playground greening. You will be immersed in the theme thanks to the lectures and workshops given by the experiential experts and specialists.

Be inspired for three days at the international conference "THE NATURAL WAY FORWARD" by academic knowledge, practical cases and meetings with like-minded people. This is the leading event for everyone who wants to work towards a world where playgrounds are green by default. From teachers to designers to academics and policy makers.

Day 1: why are green playgrounds so important?

On the first day, we will explore together why green playgrounds are so important.
In the morning, you will participate in lectures. In the afternoon, you will create your own program from a series of workshops and roundtable discussions offered. In the evening, there is a networking reception where you can meet and chat with like-minded people.

Keynote speakers

Adam Bienenstock (Ontario, Canada) 

Adam is an internationally acclaimed designer, builder, and researcher of nature-based play spaces, and the founder of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds. Adam has traveled globally to advocate for children’s rights to nature play, and to collaborate on the creation of spectacular natural parks and playgrounds.  

His resume in the natural playground industry is unparalleled; highlights include creating campuses, training, working on projects for the US Army, Parks Canada and Australia, and City projects for Toronto, San Francisco, Vancouver, Calgary, New York, Austin, Denver, Chicago, and Miami. 

Hans Van Dyck (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

Hans Van Dyck (born 1970) is a biologist. As a child, he was already fascinated by small and large animals. In 1997, he obtained his PhD at the University of Antwerp thanks to his thesis on behavioural patterns in butterflies. Since 2004, as Professor of Behavioural Ecology and Nature Conservation, he leads his own research group at the Earth & Life Institute of UCLouvain (Louvain-la-Neuve).

His research focuses on the winners and losers among animals in human-sized landscapes, with butterflies playing a central role. However, Van Dyck also likes to address the general public, writing pieces for newspapers and magazines, holding public lectures and speaking for radio and television.

Day 2: how can you tackle the greening of your playground?

On Tuesday, we'll take a closer look at how you can tackle the greening of your playground.
In the morning, you will participate in lectures. In the afternoon, you will create your own program from a series of workshops and roundtable discussions offered. In the evening, you are free to meet other participants during a networking dinner (optional).

Keynote speakers

Arjen Wals (Wageningen, the Netherlands) 

Arjen is a Professor of Transformative Learning for Socio-Ecological Sustainability at Wageningen University. He holds the UNESCO Chair of Social Learning and Sustainable Development. Wals is also a Visiting Professor at Norwegian Life Science University in Ås where he supports the development of Whole School Approaches & Sustainability.

His recent work focuses on transformative social learning in vital coalitions of multiple stakeholders at the interface of science and society. His teaching and research focus on designing learning processes and learning spaces that enable people to contribute meaningfully to sustainability. A central question in his work is: how can we create conditions that support (new) forms of learning which take full advantage of the diversity, creativity and resourcefulness that is all around us, but so far remain largely untapped in our search for a world that is more sustainable than the one currently in prospect? 

Mary Jackson (Winchester, UK) 

Mary is Head of Education & Communities at Learning through Landscapes (LtL) and co-founder of ISGA (International School Grounds Alliance). 
Learning through Landscapes is an organisation dedicated to enhancing outdoor learning and play for children. LtL does this through three avenues:  

- Advocating the benefits of outdoor learning and play at school and pre-school. 
- Inspiring and enabling the design and development of outdoor environments to support children’s development. 
- Inspiring and enabling teachers and early years practitioners to develop the confidence, ideas and skills they need to make better use of outdoor spaces. 

Cedric Ryckaert (Kortrijk, Belgium)

Cedric is a co-founder of BLES ( This is an expert network of landscape designers, specialists in education and play that transforms school grounds into powerful play and learning environments. They are developing school grounds all over Flanders. They work together with Artevelde University of Applied Sciences and Learning through Landscapes (UK).  BLES is member of the International School Ground Alliance and the Learning Planet Alliance. 

As teacher at Sint-Paulus Primary School in Kortrijk, his focus is on sustainable development themes, outdoor learning and playful learning. In recent years Cedric has worked with the team on the redesign of the school’s playground. The playground evolved from a concrete plain into the Klimaatspeelplaats, a stimulating climate-adaptive play and learning landscape. The project won the New European Bauhaus award as education champions. 

Day 3: what does a green schoolground look like?

On the last day of the conference, we will go on a field trip.

We will visit some successful regional examples and discover together what such a green playground can concretely entail.

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