Do you remember the sensation of your legs caked in cold mud? Or the thrill of hurtling downhill on a piece of cardboard? Perhaps you had a secret hut at the end of the garden? However you remember your childhood, being outdoors was probably a constant theme.
Award-winning Canadian playscape designer Adam Bienenstock will be in New Zealand to speak to New Zealand educators on the benefits of integrating nature and education at the fifth annual Natural Phenomena Conference near Whangarei this month.
He says the message he wants to give New Zealand is “do not use North America as your model”. This is the first generation in history that we as adults will have a longer lifespan than our kids.
Adam credits high rates of obesity, ADHD and other child health concerns as exponentially increasing as kids' connection to nature and their ability to take risks decreases.
However, organisers of the conference say New Zealanders could improve the way we encourage our kids to interact with the outdoors. And they fear increasing legislation and compliance around playground development and etiquette could change our society for the worse.
The increasingly popular conference aims to enable educators with tools to promote outdoor play and offset the increasing ‘mollycoddling’ of our children in a risk-averse society.
Several hundred teachers, policymakers, playground designers, parks managers and parents will gather in an outdoor setting inland from the Tutukaka Coast to hear more than 20 speakers including: