In just one generation, the average Australian childhood has shifted from a largely outdoors, active, independent, social, community orientated play; to a mostly indoors, sedentary, technologically immersed, highly structured, fearful and risk adverse play space. Children are no longer playing outside due to a myriad of reasons including a lack of community networks and neighbourhood isolation; safety fears; increased car traffic; stranger danger and children no longer walking to school, the shops or to their friends. Not to mention the increase in use of indoor technology for recreation.
This Neighbourhood Nature Play campaign is for parents, carers and communities to address changing outdoor play habits - it is one of the greatest challenges they will face as play directly relates to a child’s overall short and long-term health and wellbeing.
Let's not also forget that neighbourhood nature play is easy, it's fun and it's free.
The Neighbourhood Play Project
In a bid to explore the issue of declining outdoor play in our neighbourhoods and to help activate local communities, Nature Play QLD launched The Neighbourhood Play Project in April 2018. This project follows the story of two families from different communities, who want to activate their street and encourage neighbourhood play. Among other things, the project will include a community forum, children walking their local neighbourhoods to learn how other children play outdoors, and some locally organised neighbouhood play events. The process will be filmed and the project culminates in the creation of a documentary to shine a light on Neighbourhood play and act as a pilot to help other communities also activate play in their area.
2016 Neighbourhood Nature Play Forum
Features content by Tim Gill, one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood and the author of No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk-Averse Society; David Bond, Director of Project Wild Thing and creator of The Wild Network; and Hyahno Moser, Nature Play QLD's Program Coordinator. Footage collated from Reviving Neighbourhood Nature Play Community Forums in March 2016.
Neighbourhood Play Resources:
Use these resources to help you connect and play with your neighbours. It's up to all of us to build connections and to increase confidence within the community for our kids to play in.
- 5 Tips to Revive Neighbourhood Play in Your Community
- Invite Your Neighbours To Play letter
- Sign to let your neighbours know when your kids are available to play
- Holding a Neighbourhood Street Party
Past event: Reviving Neighbourhood Play Community Forums
Reviving Neighbourhood Nature Play Community Forums were held to spark wider discussion and change around neighbourhoods and the community’s role in children’s changing outdoor play habits.
Keynote speakers were international play experts: Tim Gill, one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood and the author of No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk-Averse Society; and David Bond, Director of Project Wild Thing and creator of The Wild Network.
Not only parents attended the forums, but also educators, child health and service professionals, journalists, governments, town planners, developers, and more – those interested in the health and well being of Queensland kids. Hundreds upon hundred of concerned citizens joined to converse, inspire and consider solutions to kick start long-term changes towards how our neighbourhoods need to change to protect our children’s right to play outdoors. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.
Reviving Neighbourhood Nature Play Community Forums were held in Cairns, Ipswich, Gold Coast and Brisbane 14-18 March 2016.
Outcomes and Reflection on Reviving Neighbourhood Nature Play Community Forum by Hyahno Moser, Program Manager
Nature Play QLD recently asked our friends from the UK, David Bond from Project Wild Thing and Tim Gill from Rethinking Childhood, to help us conduct a series of community forums across 4 communities. Our goal was to open up conversations around the shrinking outdoor play horizons of contemporary childhood. Our intention was to discuss and debate ‘why are our children not out playing in our neighbourhoods?’
In reflection, looking back over the seven Reviving Neighbourhood Nature Play Community Forums we ran from Cairns to the Gold Coast, my resolve has grown.
I can say, without any doubt, with absolute steel determination, the solution to addressing the modern key childhood health concerns, and turning around the indoor sedentary trend sweeping over for contemporary childhood, lies in our neighbourhoods.
Nature Play QLD received so much learning over the week of forums, as we listened to the hundreds of stories from people who attended.
Below is a list of the many key and dominant themes that came out of the forums.
Thank you to all who attended and bravely shared your stories of both triumph and retreat.
Nature Play QLD will be focusing many of our efforts to address many of these issues, and continue to build these conversations.
Remember, you can act locally NOW. Your neighbourhood needs you.
Nature Play QLD has created some resources (above) to support you getting started.
The dominant key themes from the Reviving Neighbourhood Nature Play Community Forums included:
- Parents are fearful for their children’s safety
- Our kids are fearful
- Children need easy and regular access to neighbourhood friends, if we are going to get our children back playing outdoors.
- It is going to take time to rebuild our neighbourhoods as outdoor play resources, but the rewards are overwhelmingly worth it.
- It is going to take local champions to take the initiative.
- Our neighbourhoods are full of interesting people, not strangers who are dangerous.
- 99% of people are good people, but for many reasons we are scared of each other.
- Stranger danger is the main reason why parents don’t let their children outdoors to play.
- Stranger danger is an unrealistic fear, but the impact is so great, now systemically embedded in urbanised parental culture, directly impacting on our children’s independent mobility
- Social isolation is building, and with it comes an increased need to be concerned for our children’s mental health
- Promote children play in front yards so that the other neighbourhood kids know where to find each other
- Getting to know our neighbours will ease our fears and grow our children’s outdoor play horizons
- We need to be careful with the picture we are painting of our neighbourhoods and communities for our children
- Some streets are unsafe because of traffic, and this needs to be addressed.
- We don’t have supply problem, we have a demand problem. There are plenty of parks and green space close by. Our kids need to be familiarised with it, so they will value it as a play space, and parents will feel comfortable letting their children play there.
- Local, State and even Federal Government have a role play in ensuring safe neighbourhoods are priority.
- Safe neighbourhoods are healthy neighbourhoods, and healthy neighbourhoods are productive and not a drain on the economy.
- Investing in quality early childhood experiences and lifestyle will pay strong dividends for local communities
- There is an alarming growing trend, of children who are not interested in going outdoors. It seems that outdoor play has no value for them.
- Neighbourhood play is about freedom, self-determination, choice, developing competence, confidence and social skills.
Case studies and success stories
Would you like to revive play in your street or community, with Nature Play QLD's help and highlight your success story? Contact [email protected] for more info.
Please help us help you. By working together and sharing your stories, we are able to report on successful outcomes to government which supports our continued funding.
Media and External Blog Outcomes
Kids playing on the streets – Riskier to stay indoors? 18 March 2016.