‘Three quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates’. This statement came out of a recent survey published (commissioned by the brand Persil as a part of its “Dirt is Good” campaign) and is a pretty damning indictment for today’s children. Paradoxically within the same survey 98% of parents polled agreed that play enables children to become well rounded adults yet went on to say that their children have fewer opportunities to play outside compared to when they were young?
So why do parents feel this? We know children are not given the same freedom to play away from home they once were and the reasons for this are complex, revolving around the perception of children’s safety in today’s world.
If children are not afforded the freedom to go out and play away from home, then we must address the quality of the environments we provide for them in our current housing estates and in new housing developments. We must work to the premise that if our children’s world has shrunk then we must create spaces for them to play near to their homes that provide a beacon for play along with the benefits play brings to their health and well-being.
Decent Homes needs Decent Spaces was published by The Design Council in 2010 and outlined a 10-point action plan to enhance community spaces within our homes. Research showed that investing in high quality spaces is effective for keeping people safe. It also evidenced that green spaces closest to where people live brings the most health benefits.
We must therefore never compromise when designing space close to homes to ensure we provide environments where children and families can engage with nature and where children can play freely.