The Smart Happy Project website is the first step towards launching a new magazine for children that encourages a participation in nature and particularly natural geometry. As the website says it’s ‘Everything you want them to do before they turn the TV on’.
The Smart Happy Project is inspired by a desire for something a bit more wholesome than the commercial magazines that are driven by TV. “I want it to be like a journal toolkit for young explorers, with pages that you cut out to make stuff or stick together,” says creator Lisa Lillywhite. “The website has tips for seeing flowers and leaves and birds, as well as facts about the numbers and geometry that are part of the world around us.”
Lisa had a career as stage designer for the entertainment industry in London for 14 years before having children and remembering her days growing up in a wild garden with freedom to roam, she moved to West Cork in 2009.
The Smart Happy Project recently hosted ‘Project Wild Thing’, a film about children and nature. In the film, David Bond is a family man who appoints himself the marketing director for nature to resell the outdoors to the younger generation. “We sell everything under the sun, now we’re going to sell the sun!” Along his journey, he discovers the true extent to which the young are disconnected from nature, highlighting issues of peer pressure, parental fear, town planning and a general onslaught of the giants of screen advertising, all as reasons that we’ve arrived at this point of disconnection from nature.
“There was a real vibe on the night and everyone left really inspired to make a few changes,” says Lisa. “Many said it was a ‘wake up call’ and commented how it ‘makes you think about your own actions’.”
The film’s lighthearted approach prompted viewers to question their own interactions with nature. “I have been challenged about my complacency in thinking that just because my family live in a beautiful area like West Cork, we are ok. But after reading Richard Louv’s book, ‘Last Child in the Woods’, I realised it’s not so much about location but rather attitudes to nature, which we communicate to children,” explains Lisa. “I rush past nature in the car every day but I need to actually make the effort to enjoy it. So much time is spent working in front of a screen or checking my phone. There is a world of wonder out there and we are missing it! If we don’t love it and value it ourselves, neither will our children.”
Lisa first heard about the film last year around the time she was launching The Smart Happy Project. “The themes seemed to resonate so well with what it’s about that I really wanted to take the opportunity to screen the film and bring an awareness of the issues. I have been really encouraged by the response to both. Sometimes it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of the problem, so we want to harness people’s enthusiasm by giving them some practical ideas to get involved with right away. That’s what the Smart Happy Project is about. This isn’t rocket science — it really is as simple as grabbing your wellies and going,” says Lisa passionately.
The next event organised by The Smart Happy Project is a ramble in Castlefreke Woods in Clonakilty on Saturday, February 15 at 3pm. Contact Lisa on 086 796 2202 for more information and come along and bring the family!
A sample of the magazine can be viewed online at www.thesmarthappyproject.com/kids-magazines. Join the membership with your email address to hear about more local events and the launch of the printed edition this year.