Nature Play – Getting Our Kids Outdoors
Turning screen time to green time
Firstly – if you are coming here via our facebook page (ironic) and just want to sign up- then go here passport to an amazing childhood
There is very little debate on the fact that children today are growing up in a very different world to the one many of us adults experienced (and enjoyed) when we were young. Rewind back some 20, 30 (maybe 40 or more years) and the way we filled our childhood days and hearts was very different to our little ones now. Sure the physical world as we know it is still mostly the same but the way in which we experience it and really become a part of what surrounds us is not. For starters, the pace was slower. Technology advances had not yet brought us the clever, yet unsettlingly addictive smart phones, ipads, internet and other screen-time required tools that many of our kids are all too familiar with now. And whilst there is also no doubt these advances are overflowing with positives the very real fear that they are overtaking essential childhood play time is also something to consider.
The way it use to be….
For many of us the childhoods we remember involved endless days in the sunshine with little to no helicopter parent circling nearby or anxiously controlling our play time routine. It began the moment we woke. Our little feet tapping excitedly against the dining room table legs as we quickly scoffed down mouthfuls of breakfast, eager as always to get outside, find our friends, explore the world and start an adventure. It was hours of mischief and invention and usually only ended as we arrived home at dusk, faces smeared with dirt, knees and clothes grass-stained with layered scrapes on our bodies but adventure in our souls. Exhausted. Elated. We literally threw our bodies into the earthly playground around us and breathed in the very essence of youthful spirit and energy. Not just a couple of hours….but full days that quite often continued into the balmy summer nights. Ahh, sigh. Remember?
Although most of us want this experience very much for our own children too and work hard at encouraging this lifestyle, the truth is that children today on average spend less than two hours a day outside. That is less than what is mandatory in our prisons. I, myself, for all my reminiscing ways am guilty of this. Of shuffling my little girls through my busy lifestyle with not as much outdoor time as I’d like and that in fact I know they would greatly benefit from. And I’m unfortunately not alone.
The Nature Play Qld Initiative
It’s for this very reason that Nature Play Qld was developed and if you have not yet become familiar with this collaborative organisation then I encourage you to do so. Their mission is to encourage the Queensland community to value nature play more and to encourage families to prioritise it in their children’s lives by increasing access to nature play resources, events and programs. And with recent scientific evidence indicating direct exposure to nature is essential for a child’s physical, social and emotional development it’s an initiative that is sure to be welcome by all.
Most recently they had their launch at New Farm park and the promise of age-based grouped activities like mud play, ochre face painting, tree climbing and (a personal favourite) rolling down hills was like any child’s (or adults if we’re honest) dream come true. It booked out in less than two hours.
A passport to an amazing childhood
At the very heart of Nature Play is their “passport to an amazing childhood” program. If you weren’t able to go to their launch then you can register online to get your child their own passport and then let the adventures begin! Designed to get kids and their families exploring our local parks and outdoor areas the program also encourages activities like climbing a tree and camping under the stars. It’s all free, can happen anywhere and the only rule is that it is not too structured. The kids are in charge of their exploration and freedom in these environments and experiences.
The physical passport comes with ten “mission” pages, stickers, suggestions for activities and a list of 15 things every child should do before they are 12. To help bridge the gap with our technology-loving kids of today, missions are also delivered via an online interface which allows children to select one that appeals to them and then head outside and do it. They can earn virtual points and eventually build avatars to win great prizes.
Gift your Brisbane Kid a childhood to remember
Growing up in a state like Queensland, and in particular a city like Brisbane, is a gift unto itself. We are abundantly rewarded with what is widely considered the perfect climate and most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. Our children have the most wonderous, intriguing, breathtaking and adventure-filled natural playgrounds right at their doorstep and their little bodies and minds are simply yearning to step outside, explore it and experience it. Let’s open the doors and their lives to this. Visit Nature Play Qld today at http://www.natureplayqld.org.au/ and gift them a childhood to remember.