Wasteland to Woodland Playground - Healthier & Happier Minds
Volunteers have cleared an area of community wasteland to enable us to build a Woodland Playground for the children of our village and the surrounding rural communities. We even hired a digger!
This area was overgrown with brambles, nettles and fallen trees. The children found a way in and built a small den and this was the inspiration for the Woodland Playground. We want to create a safe space for children to be 'at one with nature' to have a 'secret garden' with hollow logs, a teepee den structure, log hops and timber triangle interspersed with plants and trees.
'Children think better on their feet than on their seat'
(Mark Benden, Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health)
There is no doubt that children benefit from outdoor play. According to the Open University's OPENspace Research Centre, there is considerable evidence suggesting that time spent outdoors, in nature, increases life expectancy, improves well-being, reduces symptoms of depression and increases a child's ability to function in school. The outdoors is where children can most be themselves. There is something about the outdoors that is exciting and exhilarating for them, a form of escapism.
The woodland playground which is a natural play area benefits children even more so than a normal playground, it enables children to be creative, explore and have a sense of freedom but in a safe environment. This has been backed up by much research. This type of playground also enables children to appreciate the environment, the birds, plants and trees which surround them and hopefully help understand the need to protect them.
Royal & Scientific Backing
To highlight the benefits of the great outdoors and inspire children, families and communities to get back to nature, The Duchess of Cambridge and the Royal Horticultural Society last year had a woodland garden at the Chelsea Flower Show.
Her Royal Highness’s passion for the outdoors and the proven benefits that nature has on physical and mental health, the woodland garden sought to recapture the sense of wonder and magic of the outdoors. It, like our planned garden had wild planting and natural materials to recreate a woodland wilderness where children and adults alike can feel closer to the great outdoors.
WHEN IT COMES TO CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING, REGULAR OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUTDOOR PLAY ARE PARAMOUNT.
5 Good reasons why this is the case:
1. It gives children a break from busy schedules; spending time out in the fresh air is a great way of clearing the head, offering time to relax, reflect and give your brain a break! Just playing makes them feel happy.
2. Sport Participation and physical activity lowers anxiety; studies reveal a link between participation in outdoor sports and activities, and significant improvements in mental, psychological and emotional wellbeing in children. 'We now have conclusive evidence that sport and physical activity are clearly linked to mental wellbeing' Lisa O'Keefe Sport England insight director
3. It has a positive impact on mental health; Recent studies have reported a significant increase in mental ill health in children in the UK. Among other things, a lack of regular connection to the outdoors and participation in outdoor activities are major contributing factors.
4. It helps kids to up on Vitamin D; Sunlight is the best natural source for our bodies to produce vitamin D, which releases serotonin (which helps regulate emotion and mood and is linked to happiness)in the brain. Children need healthy levels of Vitamin D and serotonin for their mental health and development.
5. The Outdoors relieves stress and anxiety; time spent playing outdoors is thought to relieve stress and anxiety for children by reducing levels of the hormone cortisol in the brain. A recent study in the UK found that even just five minutes of exercise in a natural outdoor environment can rapidly improve self-esteem and mental health and wellbeing in young people.
Woodland Trust - Trees & Plants
The Woodland Trust are giving us trees in November and plants are being donated by villagers. The hope is that we can raise the money we need for the natural wood play equipment such as hollow logs, timber triangle, log hops etc.
The more we raise the more we can afford to put in to give the play area some structure and features for the children to enjoy.
Our aim is to have this wasteland turned in to a Woodland Playground by the end of the year and hopefully by then the COVID19 restrictions will be released enough to let the children enjoy this area and get the 5 key benefits of outdoor play .
Studies worldwide demonstrate a correlation between participation in outdoor activities and significant improvements in mental, psychological and emotional wellbeing in children. There are few rules and restrictions outdoors and the freedom to play in the fresh air offers so many benefits through 'running free' and being creative in play.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
PLAYING OUTSIDE MAKES FOR HEALTHIER AND HAPPIER MINDS