Hastings dad calls for children to re-discover nature and the great outdoors
A local dad of two has launched a project with the aim of helping children to re-connect with nature and the outdoors.
Luke, a charity worker, who has led forest schools and therapeutic outdoor learning programmes for adults and children, explained: “As a father of two beautiful children I am fortunate enough to spend lots of my time playing with my kids, having exciting adventures, and exploring the great outdoors through a child’s eyes.
“I am also a passionate outdoor educator and I am on a mission to re wild my children, in fact I am on a mission to re wild all of our children, to get them playing outside again, free to roam and engage with nature, to get muddy, to climb, explore and discover, to scrape their knees and scramble up trees. I want to see children playing outside again.
“I was lucky, being one of the last generations of children who were able to play freely outside and be a bit wild. Over the last 20 years or so outdoor free play has almost completely disappeared.
“I am lucky enough to work outside in the woods every day, and I very rarely see children playing. The few I do see invariably have close adult supervision.
“Of course, lots has changed since my wild childhood: Increased time pressures on parents and children, parental and social fears about letting our kids outside unsupervised, increased housing and infrastructure, restrictions in wild spaces, and the exponential increase in computer technology are all having a huge impact on our children’s lives.
“The NHS estimates a quarter of children between two and 10 years old are overweight or obese.
“They are becoming lazier, more stressed, less socially competent and more allergic to things.
“Perhaps more worrying is that today’s children are far more anxious and increasingly suffer from depression and mental health issues; according to mental health statistics rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70% in the past 25 years. 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14.
“Current research is showing time in nature has an overwhelmingly positive impact on general wellbeing and depression.
According to one study by ‘Mind,’ 95% said their mood improved after spending time outside.
“As a father I feel saddened that my children will grow up in a world where there is no one to play outside with. I know most parents feel the same, we want them outside more but there is no one to play with.
“Parents often tell me that it is not safe outside anymore; this is just not true, in fact with the exception of increased road traffic, it is as ‘safe’ as it ever has been. But the same cannot be said for the massively increased risk children are exposed to on the internet.
“I want my children to engage personally with the natural world, to smell it, touch it and taste it, to breathe it in. I want them to have an emotional connection with nature. I want them to grow up with a respect and love for the world around them and to understand their own place as part of nature.
“As a childcare professional of more than 20 years, as an outdoor educator, but most importantly as a dad I feel I have a responsibility not only to try and rewild my own children, but to encourage us all to rewild our children and ourselves, parents and communities.
“We need to get outside, to play and engage in nature, to let our children be free, free to explore, free to discover, free to make their own mistakes, free to be wild.
“Please join me and get involved with Project Rewild. To find out more please contact us on: [email protected] or www.projectrewild.co.uk.”