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     You may have noticed there is a big move afoot to encourage parents to get children to play outdoors more.  Numerous organisations have been formed, surveys carried out and businesses set up all to get children away from their computers or games consoles and out in the fresh air.

    The National Trust carried out a major study:   http://outdoornation.org.uk/ with some worrying findings:

    ·         In a survey of young people it was revealed that only 10% have regular contact with natural environments, compared to the 40% of adults who did so when they were young.

    ·         This lack of contact with nature has been termed ‘nature-deficit disorder’, and is likely to have profound effects on children’s health and well-being.

    The report goes on to say:

    “Regular contact with nature is important for personal development. Natural environments provide opportunities for social interaction and facilitate relationships which can help to reduce confrontation and increase mutual cooperation between children. Access to nature can also help children to push boundaries and take risks, developing self-confidence, self-esteem and self-discipline; alongside the ability to risk manage. Self-discovery can also be facilitated through contact with nature. Children can learn about themselves, developing increased self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

    Playing in nature and being able to visit natural spaces can also generate independence, helping children to think and learn for themselves. Nature facilitates more creative and imaginative play and creates a capacity for learning. Contact with natural environments increases children’s concentration and attention levels and enhances cognitive function, factors which are likely to play an important role in learning and academic achievement.

    Natural environments can also play a role in physical development by facilitating activity. Playing in nature can increase motor fitness, balance and coordination; and also contribute to growth and development. Young children who have access to natural areas in playschool experience less illness and have increased physical abilities.

    Mucking about in streams is great fun and a good way to enjoy the great outdoors

    Children with easy access to nature are also more able to cope with stressful live events; a factor which may play an important role in their quality of life. Stress can have an adverse impact on quality of life; leading to psychological distress and feelings of low self-worth. Children with nature near to their homes exhibit less psychological distress and recover from stress more successfully than those who do not have access to nature close to their homes. Therefore, nature helps young people to develop an increased resilience to stress and generate an inner strength that acts as a buffer in times of stress, improving coping mechanisms.”

    It’s not rocket-science – just good sense.

    In Bristol a couple of Mums have set up a really innovative scheme http://playingout.net/.  It’s a really simple concept; getting the local council to shut-off local streets for a couple of hours every month to enable children to play outside safely.  Watch their video – it explains all.



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