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Gruffalo trails celebrate England’s ‘deep dark woods’

How do you encourage more young children to explore England’s forests and discover the joys and freedom of the great outdoors?

This is one of the challenges the Forestry Commission asked Spirit to help with last year – to find an exciting and engaging way of enticing families with young children into the nation’s woodlands.

Forestry Commission sites are extremely popular, receiving more visits each year than our beaches, but encouraging young people to enjoy the outdoors can be a challenge, as recent studies have shown that only 1 in 5 children feel connected to nature.

We decided our solution would need to connect with children’s existing interests to have real impact and thought to ourselves, what could be better than the Gruffalo?

Created by author Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Sheffler, the Gruffalo is one of the world’s favourite monsters and the woodland adventure stories provide the perfect guide for young fans to the fun and adventure to be found in the ‘deep dark woods’.

So we introduced the Forestry Commission to Magic Light Pictures, who have produced two award-winning Gruffalo films and hold the rights to the character, which has resulted in an exciting partnership which kicks off with the Gruffalo’s 15th anniversary this year.

Working as the PR partner for the campaign we have devised a media relations strategy to launch the partnership and support the various activities that are being rolled out this year, including activity trails in 28 forests across the UK and special Birthday Picnics across the country on 7 June. To top it all off, 15 forests will get their own individually-carved 7ft Gruffalo sculpture, created from Forestry Commission timber.

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