Thursday, 14 November 2013

Play outside - you must be kidding!

Even inner city children used to play outside alot

Do you know that only 1 in 10 children regularly play outside?   Do you also know that children between the ages of 11 to 15 years old, on average spend 7 ½ hours in front of a screen of some sort every day, which equates to half of their waking life. Interestingly, those kids who spend the most time in front of a screen also report the lowest levels of well-being.

Apparently, fitness levels amongst the British are falling faster than any other country in the world and this sedentary lifestyle, coupled often with over-eating and a poor diet generally, is leading to a sharp increase in child obesity. For the first time in human history, many of these children face a lower life expectancy than their parents.

My childhood was unbelievably fortunate as I was brought up in a rural community with masses of freedom. In fact it was often hard for my parents to entice me back indoors. During school holidays I would wave a cheery goodbye to my mother as I set off on my bike, without her even knowing which direction I had gone in, relying only on the knowledge that I would return when I was hungry!  Nowadays, of course things are very different, however parents seem so completely obsessed with their children’s security, that by current accepted standards of health and safety, it makes me wonder how any of my generation ever reached adulthood!

We must all surely be concerned about these few statistics that I have mentioned above, as it does not make for comfortable reading. But what are we able to do to change things? Well, here are a couple of initiatives under way (I'm sure there are many more) that I am aware of, which are attempting to change the mindset of both parents and children.

The National Trust has produced an interesting website page entitled “50 things to do before you are 11 ¾” - and the organisation Countryside Learning offers many ideas and events -
Finally, how about introducing children to a brand new hobby? For instance, why not book them onto next summers GWCT's young shots course - find out more at:

So, lets loosen up a little about our children being in danger the moment they leave the house. As one outward bound teacher put it at the end of an activities day, surrounded by smiling, mud splattered children with rosy cheeks - “the most dangerous thing that they have done today by far is driving here in their parent’s car”.

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