A Mummys View

Telling it like it is

The Importance of Outdoor Play and the Transform Your Patch Campaign

on June 7, 2012

In the last few months I have come across a great campaign entitled Transform Your Patch, you’ve probably seen in in parenting magazines and across various cans and bottles of soft drinks in supermarkets etc.

Transform Your Patch is a campaign that, with the support of Groundwork, the UK’s leading environmental regeneration charity, and some of the UK’s most popular soft drinks brands, will see outdoor spaces transformed for children across the country.

Areas of space are being transformed into Parks, Playgrounds, Skate Parks and 5-a-side Football Pitches, to give young people a space to play, socialise and learn.

Simply by buying a soft drink from one of the participating brands in a local shop, supermarket, at the cinema, in a pub or even in a restaurant, you will all be supporting the campaign. Every drink represents a 1cm2 patch of real land that needs regenerating.

Brands taking part include Pepsi, 7 Up, Robinsons, Robinsons Fruit Shoot, Tango, Lipton Ice Teas, Tango, Drech, J2O and Britvic so you can pretty much guarantee every time you purchase a drink when you are out and about you will be contributing to this campaign.

In addition to buying a drink you can also vote for projects across the UK every day until 31st October. Projects are also being championed by four celebrities, Denise Van Outen (Playgrounds), Emma Willis (Parks), Robbie Savage (5-A-Side Pitches) and Fazer (Skate Parks), so every time you cast your vote you are also voting for that celebrities project type too.  On the 14th September 2012 the celebrity with the most votes will win £100,000 to spread across their project type. The money will be used on the projects themselves as well as in the region to make sure communities get as much fun as they possibly can out of their transformed patch.

I think this is a great campaign. We all know it is so important to get kids outdoors, enjoying the fresh air and exercising, but not everyone is lucky enough to have facilities on their doorstep, so projects like this can make a huge difference.

 According to an article on communityplaythings.co.uk which takes an excerpt from Play, Development and Early Education by Johnson, Christie and Wardle:

There are two fundamental reasons why outdoor play is critical for young children in our early childhood programmes and schools. First, many of the developmental tasks that children must achieve – exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development and the absorption of vast amounts of basic knowledge – can be most effectively learned through outdoor play. Second, our culture is taking outdoor play away from young children through excessive TV and computer use, unsafe neighborhoods, busy and tired parents, educational accountability, elimination of school recess, and academic standards that push more and more developmentally inappropriate academics into our early childhood programmes, thus taking time away from play.

This article also states:

  • Children need opportunities to explore, experiment, manipulate, marvel, discover, practice, push their limits, yell, sing, and create. Some of our favourite childhood memories are outdoor activities.
  • Outdoor play enables young children to learn lots and lots and lots of things about the world. How does ice feel and sound? Can sticks stand up in sand? How do plants grow? How does mud feel? Why do we slide down instead of up? How do I make my tricycle go faster? How does the overhang of the building create cool shade from the sun? What does a tomato smell and taste like? What does a chrysalis change into? Do butterflies have to learn to fly? Much of what a child learns outside can be learned in a variety of other ways, but learning it outside is particularly effective – and certainly more fun!
  • One way to reduce the spread of infection is through lots and lots of fresh air. Outdoor play enables the infectious agents to spread out and be dissipated.
  • Outdoor play also enables children to enjoy the natural environment and learn to seek out exercise, fresh air, and activity.
  • Children who learn to enjoy the outdoors have a much higher likelihood of becoming adults who enjoy hiking, gardening, jogging, bicycling, mountain climbing, or other outdoor endeavours.
  • Outdoor environments fulfil children’s basic needs for freedom, adventure, experimentation, risk-taking, and just being children.
  • Children need the opportunity to explore the unknown, the unpredictable, and the adventurous. They also need to be able to wonder at nature, from the worm gliding through the newly turned dirt in the garden to the monarch butterfly emerging out of the chrysalis and gracefully fluttering away in the summer breeze.

I think these are all great points. My little girl loves playing outdoors, I often can’t get her in! and that’s why I’ve been supporting the campaign with regular votes (as well as every time I purchase a soft drink). At writing this there were 37% of patches activated. If you want to get involved and help give recreational facilities for children in your area a boost just visit the Transform Your Patch site to find out more.

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