Nature deficit disorder
You must read Jon Henley’s article in yesterday’s Guardian ‘Why our children need to get outside and engage with nature’. The fact that most children nowadays are not allowed to play outside unsupervised until the age of 14 is having profound consequences not only for children’s physical health, but for their development of life skills, such as risk-taking. It would seem that parents are beginning to realise this and acknowledging that they would like to let their children play out more, but are worried about being perceived as a negligent parent by other parents. They are also worried by traffic danger, and the fear of ‘stranger danger’. What can be done? Henley’s article mentions a pioneering scheme in Somerset run by the Somerset Play and Participation Service, in which children are allowed to play freely in 30 natural play sites which are either open access land or have permission from the landowner/manager to be included.
The website, www.somersetoutdoorplay.org.uk , says ‘All the places listed on this site have been visited by playworkers to make sure they are good places to play in’, where ‘children can explore, where they can use their imaginations and be creative, where they can be naturally active – and have fun!’ The website includes places within towns.
Do you know of any schemes like this, elsewhere in the country?
See also – Reclaiming natural play spaces