Save Outdoor Play from Extinction!
Author: Jodie Lewin
What do the Northern hairy-nosed wombat and kids' outdoor play have in common? Well a few things actually; they're both natural, they're both typically Australian and they're both endangered! But it's not too late to save them.
In the space of a single generation, Australian children have moved from playing outdoors to playing indoors. This change can be put down to safety concerns, time-poor parents, and the lure of television and computer games. Independent research carried out over the past few years for Planet Ark demonstrates how many of these outdoor activities have moved towards extinction.
- Only 1 in 3 Aussie kids today play outside every day compared to around 3 in 4 children a generation ago,
- Around 1 in 3 Aussie kids have never been camping or bushwalking and
- 1 in every 4 Aussie kids has never climbed a tree!
Other once-popular outdoor activities, such as tag and chase games, street games like hopscotch and jump rope, exploring natural areas like gullies and reserves, and even bike riding, are all disappearing too.
Why Does It Matter?
A dose of everyday nature - particularly in the form of outdoor play - has huge health benefits for children - some are obvious, some less so. Research shows that unstructured play and time in nature can help boost academic performance, reduce stress and depression, improve confidence and self-esteem, foster creativity and imagination, improve concentration, reduce the symptoms of ADHD, develop motor skills and lower the risk of obesity.
Encouraging children to spend time in nature also helps them feel connected to it, which in turn builds a desire to protect nature into adulthood. So getting activities like tree climbing and bushwalking off the endangered list could also help save our endangered species!
Get Thee Outside
To help preserve these increasingly rare and endangered activities, the Planet Ark Everyday Nature program has put together the kids Endangered Nature Activity Rescue Guide. Download it, share it with your friends, family and colleagues and use it to get your kids back outside. Then let us know which activities you've achieved. Send us an image and a few words about the activity you're helping preserve and we'll share it with our social media friends with an encouragement for them to get involved too.
Why not join the Australian Conservation Foundation on Sunday 4th May for the inaugural Play Outside Day, too.
What About The Wombats?
Back to the Northern hairy-nosed wombat... They may be endangered but they haven't been forgotten. The Wombat Foundation is a charitable organisation that is working to bring the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat back from the brink of extinction. Sunday 11th May is Hairy Nosed Day with schools encouraged to run activities and raise funds. So put on some whiskers and give them a hand.