Ever heard of Nature Deficit Disorder? It’s not a medical condition, but a recent phenomenon observed in Western societies: children spend less and less time in nature. Actually, less than one in ten children regularly play in wild places!
Most adults remember fondly playing in the wild when they were younger, but nowadays, many children are losing out on the benefits of playing outside. Not only are they losing out on many health benefits, but they are also growing up disconnected from the natural world. At a time when human activities posing a huge threat to nature, do we really want the next generation to loose all interest in wildlife? The usual suspects blamed for this disconnection with nature are video games and other indoor gadgets as well as parental fears of strangers, cars, or even dirt.
So what can we do? Well, at the RSPB Lochwinnoch we thought long and hard about this and decided to create our own natural play area! Recently launched, it is located in the reserve’s beautiful woodland and is complete with swings, stepping stones, seesaws, climbing ropes, dens and a very muddy mud pit. What makes it different from usual play zones is not only its scenic location, but also that 95% of the material used is completely natural. The seesaws, for example, are made out of trees fallen during last winter’s wind storms. There, children are free to explore, build, get muddy...
We officially launched the play area on Wednesday 1st August, National Play Day, during a festive launch event. Despite the rainy weather, children stormed the play area, climbing, jumping, building and getting muddy. Parents didn’t mind though “Dirty children are happy children” summed up one happy mum. If you don’t believe her, simply look at the photos below.
Photos by Zul Bhatia
More info on Nature deficit disorder: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17495032