Growing up in our beautiful bush capital I have fond childhood memories of exploring the great outdoors. Many an hour was spent searching the foothills of Mt Ainslie, seeking high adventure in the quest of discovering abandoned treasure. After all we were kids with vivid imaginations.
Endless summer holidays were filled climbing trees and scrambling over rocks, inevitably experiencing the odd cut here, the occasional bruise there. We would ride our bikes around the neighbourhood, stopping in the street to play cricket, cool off under the garden hose while devouring an icy pole, entertaining ourselves as we swung from the clothesline. It was fun.
Not that long ago, outdoor play was a normal part of every childhood. It was a natural part of growing up. We pitched our tents under the stars, bushwalked, played by the river. Nature was our playground.
These influences shaped my childhood experiences, values that I have carried on the journey that is life. Looking back, those natural experiences certainly planted the seed that led to an incredibly rewarding career. Nature play can lead to nature conservation, a sense of environmental custodianship.
Today, across the bush capital, our kids spend less time outdoors. This generational shift to an indoor existence has been linked to a decline in children's well-being. This has far-reaching consequences for our community. With this transition to a sedentary lifestyle we are seeing increasing rates of childhood obesity, anxiety, depression.
This dramatic shift in childhood inactivity is coupled with parenting styles becoming more risk-averse; this plus technology is turning our children glassy-eyed, addicted to screens.
Nature Play CBR is a wonderful initiative providing clever tips to help us increase the time children spend outdoors immersed in nature.
The philosophy embedded within Nature Play recognises what we instinctively appreciate; that we are not separate from nature, but a part of it. Paradoxically, this is not an innovative concept, but a rediscovering of what our forbears understood. Our community, our children are all intrinsically linked to our environment.
Participation in nature play can enhance children's cognitive flexibility and their creativity, boost their self-esteem and, importantly, improve their resilience. Research across the world clearly supports immersion in nature as being essential to the health and well-being of children. Nature nurtures our mind, body and soul.
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