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Wild & Willful: Gronings project goes cross-border

29 November 2021
Druk & Dwars
Druk & Dwars

The Frisian municipalities of Noardeast-Fryslân and Dantumadiel will be adopting the approach of the Groningen-based Wild & Willful project as from 2022. It aims to prevent overdiagnosis with ADHD in children by strengthening the environment in which they grow up, so that specialist psychiatric programmes are not unnecessarily used and remain available to children and families with the most serious problems. Wild & Willful was developed by the department of Special Needs Education of the University of Groningen and is being implemented in several municipalities in Groningen.


The working method of Wild & Willful (‘Druk & Dwars’ in Dutch, ‘Drok & Dwers’ in Frisian) was created in 2011 and expanded over the years in collaboration with the Groningen municipalities. Currently there are four pillars:

  1. Information provision about questionable assumptions behind the still dominant idea of ADHD as a chronic, hereditary brain defect.
  2. Courses and training programmes that provide parents, teachers and pedagogical staff in child care with practical tools and a normalizing, demedicalizing view of hyperactive and unruly behaviour.
  3. ‘Train the trainer’ courses, which train care and teaching professionals to teach these courses and training programmes in order to ensure a sustainable approach within the municipalities.
  4. Klassenfeestjes [class parties], a subproject that teaches children at a young age and in a fun way that everyone belongs and promotes an inclusive classroom climate in schools.

Integrated approach

‘All of us in the team are delighted that, in addition to a variety of municipalities in Groningen, we now also have these Frisian municipalities on board,’ says project leader Prof. Laura Batstra. ‘At Wild & Willful we are experiencing a lot of interest from all over the country in the individual components of our approach. We are often asked, for example, to come and give a lecture or workshop, or schools want to have some of their teachers to follow our train the trainer course. However, the impact of individual activities will soon fade away if nothing else changes within a municipality. If we really want to turn the dominant tide of medicalization, we will have to make efforts at various levels and in a variety of ways. We aim to use our integrated approach to create a shift within municipalities from the current emphasis on disorders to a broadly supported normalizing approach to children whose behaviour is perceived to be hyperactive and unruly.’

Accessible and nearby

The north-east of Friesland is the first region outside the province of Groningen to adopt the integrated approach of Wild & Willful. The municipalities of Noardeast-Fryslân and Dantumadiel are collaborating closely in the fields of care and education. The aldermen in both municipalities are delighted.

Gerben Wiersma, alderman in Dantumadiel: ‘We consider it important that children with behavioural problems can continue to function within their own environment as much as possible. The Wild & Willful focus on support within families and at school ties in perfectly with our vision.’

Jouke Douwe de Vries, alderman in Noardeast-Fryslân: ‘The municipalities of Dantumadiel and Noardeast-Fryslân are focussing strongly on better connections between education and youth care. “Accessible” and “nearby” are key words in this context. In addition, we also pay a lot of attention to normalization, in the sense that we prefer not to label children. The Wild & Willful approach dovetails closely with his, which is why we are very pleased with this collaboration that enables us to exchange knowledge and experience.’

It sil heve! [‘It’ll happen!’ in Frisian]


Last modified:01 December 2021 1.06 p.m.
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