Messy, mad and marvellous was my experience of a natural play session with Larkhall Nurture Group during October.
Messy, mad and marvellous was my experience of a natural play session with Larkhall Nurture Group during October. Around 30 children and mothers took part and were involved in a range of activities including making an outdoor obstacle course, parachute games, leafy art and willow wands. Activities took place in the grounds of Chalmers Church and were led by Clydesdale Community Initiatives and supported by CAVLP. The session was organised through South Lanarkshire Home School Partnership as part of their ongoing group work.
This is the first step in an exciting new project funded by CAVLP, Warburton’s and Renewable Energy Fund which will develop opportunities for family outdoor play in North and South Lanarkshire. The benefits of playing outdoors speak for themselves- increased health and well-being, not to mention all the social and developmental skills learned.
The inspiration for this project is, in part, remembering my own childhood, growing up in Glasgow. It was the norm for kids to play outdoors a lot and we would generally seek out those little pockets of ‘wilderness’ that were on our doorsteps and let our imaginations roam free. Sometimes we built dens amongst the 10 trees we called “the woods”. Other times we set traps for potential ‘baddies’ who might try to invade our woods when we were not there. Nobody called it ‘outdoor learning’ or ‘natural play’ – there was no need. It was just what we did.
Times have changed now and today’s children don’t have the same freedom to roam in our busy world. A recent article in the BBC News, Children ‘prefer to play outdoors than watch TV’ presents some interesting findings given that we all too often label the nation’s kids as TV junkies or IT geeks. In a recent poll, 81% of children surveyed said they’d rather play outside than watch TV. The reason they don’t do it is due to parents restricting their outdoor activities because of safety concerns. As a parent I understand that and share those concerns but maybe we need to think about how our behaviour is affecting our kids. We need to look at how communities can provide opportunities for ‘wild play’ for kids- before they forget how to do it.
Through CAVLP’s Natural Play project we hope to work with interested people within communities, from groups of parents to community groups. We will tailor activities to suit, for example, guided play sessions and/or training- depending on group needs. In the longer term we hope that those who participate will feel inspired to make their own play in their local community woodlands and greenspaces. All you need is a little imagination.
- Karen Dobbins, Community Engagement Officer, Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership