The outdoor decline
Many of us will, in our lifetime, watch a toddler, either our own or someone else’s, climb vigorously over anything in their path, no matter how high. Suddenly, an overwhelming sense of fear will take over and we will be forced to put a stop to their adventures, much to their dismay and our own relief.
This is a situation which is all too familiar in the ‘risky society’ which we live in today – one which has become overwrought with health and safety concerns, risk assessments and dangers that were never given a second thought during our own childhood (mainly pre-1990s). The end of this era marked the end of outdoor play, and the beginning of the internet generation, resulting in many children now leading a sedentary lifestyle, attached to their mobile devices.
Back to basics
The issues facing children in society today – if this sedentary lifestyle continues – have been widely reported in the media for some time now, largely in relation to rising obesity levels. Raising awareness has had a relatively positive effect and many communities can be seen to be making changes, such as the growing number of outdoor nurseries, more outdoor play in the primary school curriculum and a wider range of sports being offered in secondary schools.
Perhaps reminiscent of their own childhood, parents also appear to be paying heed to the issue now, foregoing the ‘electronic babysitter’ for trampolines and climbing frames in the back garden, such as those available here: http://www.niclimbingframes.com/climbing-frames. Even climbing frames for older children can be seen in the gardens of many a residential street. It’s a refreshing sight in a society which would otherwise appear to be worryingly blighted by laziness.
We must continue to remind ourselves that whilst we now live in a society full of worriers, children are and always will be born adventurers, who deserve the opportunity to explore. They will run, climb, ride and fall over. They will have cuts and scrapes (which they will be proud of) and hopefully they will get very, very dirty. Chances are they will be enjoying themselves, and despite all the mud, bumps and bruises, innocent and happy memories will be made, to last a lifetime. Who needs risk assessments and mobile devices when we can get outside and have fun?