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Geocache walks in Cambridge will get children to connect with their city

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Helen Weinstein at Historyworks, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Helen Weinstein at Historyworks, Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Grab your mobile, head outside and learn more about the city where you live by joining a new geocache walk this spring.

The walks are being created by Historyworks, a business that has been working with Cambridge’s young people, encouraging them to make emotional connections with their neighbourhoods and the cultural centre of the city.

Director Helen Weinstein started the firm in 2014 after coming to Cambridge from York. It’s a media company, rooted in her experience as a radio producer for the BBC, and gives children the chance to create videos, poems, songs, raps and all kinds of creative expressions that find connections to Cambridge, socially and historically.

Now Historyworks has secured a £3,000 grant from the city council to start a series of geocache-based walking routes around the city.

The walks, which will utilise a mobile phone’s GPS, will be launched in March. Residents will have the chance to pop along to an opening event where they can find some help in getting to grips with the geocaching craze.

The walks build on Historyworks’ work with schools, moving the classroom outside into the rich historical and cultural setting of Cambridge.

Helen explained: “As a historian, I try to help people engage with the past and create an emotional connection. If we can allow that to happen, children can have a much better sense of belonging. They could have been living in Cambridge for years without having felt that.

“For quite a lot of children, the shopping centres might be as far as they have come into the city centre. A lot haven’t been to the historical centre of the city, some haven’t seen the River Cam and some haven’t seen swans.

“We know that when children go on school trips they love visiting museums and galleries, but they don’t think of going with their families is an option.

“Residents often think these places are for other people, for tourists to visit. I think it is that sense of cultural confidence. We can see a real change in children over just a few weeks when we take them to these places in the city.”

Historyworks holds creative workshops with children and then returns to museums and galleries in the city so the pupils, mostly in Year 5 of primary school, have the chance to show their work to their parents.

“With one school we asked how many children had been to the Museum of Technology and three students raised their hands. Now there are hundreds of kids there that have been. When we returned for the showcase there was a boy who came early with his dad, who didn’t look quite sure of what to do. The boy walked straight in through the back entrance, because that’s the way we had taken them in. He took his dad by the hand and said ‘I’ll take you on a tour’.”

Other popular visits include climbing the tower of Great St Mary’s Church and visiting Coldham’s Common, where coprolite mining (digging up fossilised dinosaur dung) used to take place.

The first geocaching event will be held on Sunday, March 19.

More information can be found online.

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