Recent research shows that many Australian children spend less than two hours a day outside, one in four have never climbed a tree, one in three have never planted a garden and the area in which they can explore has shrunk by 90%. In SA, our children are spending less time in nature than at any other time in our history, leading to increasing rates of childhood obesity, depression and behavioural disorders.
Unintentionally, our children’s lives have become characterized by technology, structure and inactivity. Having the time and opportunity to explore and create fun on their own is no longer a rite of passage for children.
Nature Play SA's vision is to make unstructured outdoor play in nature an everyday part of childhood. Our task is to target children from 0-12 years, parents, educators in early and primary years, Councils and community organisations to:
- raise awareness about the importance of nature play;
- equip people with the knowledge and skills they need;
- provide opportunities and tools;
- empower people to act
Nature Play SA are a small team of 5 full-time equivalent staff. We are passionate about what we do and work extremely hard to make a difference in the lives of SA children.
We run free community events and produce and distribute free resources assisting schools in the development of natural play spaces and encouraging families to get outside. Over the last 3 years Nature Play SA has produced over 50 free resources and many free community events. Nature Play SA Events are hugely popular. This year alone we have had the Forest Festival at Kuitpo, attended by 8000; International Mud Day with an attendance of 1000; the Goolwa summer event which included mud play, kite flying, loose parts and raft making, attended by 2000; Cubby Building in Belair National Park for 6000 and the Nature Play Festival with 2000 participants.
The cost to host these free events and create and distribute free resources is significant. However they will continue to be a key focus for us and together with our social media platform, provide the best tools we have to show South Australian families how they can engage their children in unstructured outdoor play.