A new study commissioned by Persil shows that Kids spend less time outdoors than prisoners.
The stats make stark reading: 74% of UK kids get less than the 1 hour of outdoor play time recommended by the UN and 18% get no outdoor play time at all on an average day. No outdoor time at all, not a single minute, for several million children.
Yet for all that it is deeply sad, it doesn't come as a surprise to us; the evidence has been building. We need to do so much more to help parents and communities to enable outdoor time to actually happen, to be a reality.
Time outdoors is vital if our children are to thrive in the 21st century and yet it simply isn't happening.
We’ve long believed in the need for this issue to be taken mainstream and for it to be given the real prominence it needs. We’re glad that Persil and Unilever are throwing themselves into this issue – their presence is welcome. There are very real and profound issues at stake, including the long-term physical and mental wellbeing of our children and their connection to themselves and nature of which they are a part.
The research very helpfully brings fresh attention to the issue that has presented itself time and time again; there is a real paradox at work here. Parents overwhelmingly recognise the importance of play for their children future and their ability to learn and yet outdoor time continues to decline:
For their children’s future: 98% of parents in the UK agree that play enables children to become well-rounded adults (global score: 96%)
But for all this recognition of its importance, time outdoors is shrinking. The things stopping it, the big barriers to opening that front door and setting the kids free are more real than ever. Our attitudes to risk; streets that are perceived to be too busy and dangerous; availability of space for play to happen; the omnipresence of screens as a diversion tool; and our over-scheduled lives are real. These are challenges for communities, schools and parents wherever you live.
What we need now is new solutions, new ideas and better tools to give parents the confidence and capability to overcome those barriers.
This is where The Wild Network comes in.
We’re delighted to announce that this year we’re working with Persil in the UK and Republic of Ireland specifically, to build solutions that make it easy for parents and carers, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances are, to spend more time outside.
As the year goes on we want to bring to bear the experience of you, our wild community of organisations and individuals, who are already grappling with these issues and who are working with these issues across the country. We hope there will be lots of opportunity for you to input over the year and we would love to hear your views.
You can follow and share the campaign on #FreeTheKids and get ideas for #WildTime and the latest updates at thewildnetwork.com