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More than 100 children with their families or youth group leaders are coming out for an adventure into the woods with the Forestry Commission at West Walk, Forest of Bere, on Saturday 5 March for the launch of Outdoor Play Week. Most of these children otherwise have little opportunity to play in the woods or even in their local parks.
The Forestry Commission is hosting the special event free of charge between 10am and 3pm. These families have booked a range of activities from den building, bushcraft skills and woodland games to natural art, clay animals and minibeast hunting.
Local authority youth and childcare co-ordinators in Hampshire have visited schools and children’s centres and liaised with other organisations such as Barnardos’ Parent Voice to encourage families to attend. These organisations have funded coaches and other transport to make it possible for those families to take part.
In addition to the organised activities there will be lots for children to do in their own time around the woods. Every family or group will receive an explorer pack, which provides lots of ideas about how to make the most of their visit to the forest. The natural play areas, trails, open spaces, logs and trees are all great places for families to explore to encourage imaginative play.
Research by the Future Foundation launched in January 2011 revealed that almost a quarter (24%) of children rarely or never play outside and that the majority of children spend double the time watching television as they do outdoors.
It goes on to say that 92% of parents say that they spent more time outdoors as children than their kids do today raising concerns that the nation’s children have become an ‘Indoor Generation’.
It has been proven that children experience a whole range of benefits from outdoor play including improved fitness, greater emotional wellbeing, improved self-esteem, confidence and better social skills. Outdoor Play Week is an initiative to encourage families to spend more time playing outdoors to gain these benefits.
Lucy Stockwell, play project officer at the Forestry Commission, said:
“At the weekend we want to offer a special day out for children who may have not had the chance to visit a woodland before. We want them to be able to enjoy the forest as much as our regular visitors and go home with happy memories that will give them a taste for outdoor adventure.”
Families, schools and communities are also getting involved and organising their own outdoor play events in green spaces across the South East. For information and help with organising your own outdoor play event please visit http://www.wellbeingsoutheast.org.uk/physical_activity/
NOTES TO EDITOR
- Outdoor Play Week is funded by Chances4Change via BIG Lottery Health and Wellbeing Programme and supported by the Department of Health, the Forestry Commission, Play England, KIDS, Wellbeing South East and CSPN.
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.
- Play England promotes excellent free play opportunities for all children and young people. Play England provides advice and support to promote good practice, and works to ensure that the importance of play is recognised by policy makers, planners and the public. Play England is contracted as the government’s delivery partner for The Play Strategy. Play England is part of NCB and is supported by the Big Lottery Fund. For further information call 020 7843 6300 or visit www.playengland.org.uk
Jo Spouncer, Press Officer, Forestry Commission South East
T: 01483 326265 M: 07828 762045 E: firstname.lastname@example.org