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    Prince William Praises Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children

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    Britain’s Prince William is greeted by pupils at Matteus School in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday Jan. 31, 2018. Prince William and Kate Duchess of Cambridge are on a four-day visit to Sweden and Norway. (Jonas Ekströmer / TT via AP)

    STOCKHOLM (AP) — Britain’s Prince William has praised Sweden’s embrace of the great outdoors, in particular the physical and mental benefits of outdoor exercise for children.

    Speaking Wednesday at the end of a two-day visit to Sweden, William said that “one lesson that we will take home with us, is that children are actively encouraged to spend time outdoors, whatever the weather.”

    During the visit, William and the Duchess of Cambridge sought to meet Swedes from all walks of life. At a medical institute, they discussed with academics Sweden’s approach to managing mental health challenges, a subject the royals have campaigned about.

    William and Kate, both 35, will begin a two-day visit to Norway on Thursday.

    The Right Brain Develops First – Why Play is the Foundation for Academic Learning

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    Did you know that the right brain develops first? It does so by the time children are four years of age. The left brain, on the other hand, doesn’t fully come online until children are approximately seven years old; hence the first seven years being recognized as such a critical period in child development.

    Understanding this we can better appreciate why play is so important in child learning and development, and why we need to be extra careful with the amount and timing of academic agendas created for children; with how much we emphasize product—what kids have accomplished at school—versus process—who they are becoming and what they feel in their explorations. That the right brain develops first is pertinent information for those in the field of education, as well as parents, regarding what is developmentally appropriate. Pushing literacy and numeracy on children before age seven may just be harmful to their little, developing brains. Without the capacity to use their academic minds in the ways that are being asked can cause children to gain what’s called “learned stupidity.” They believe themselves to be incapable and lose their natural desire to learn. Full blog

    Nobles Waterpark

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    Nobles Waterpark, Douglas, Isle of Man –

    Play and Sports with Waterplay Solutions, is proud to announce winning the contract to design and build a new waterplay facility at Nobles Waterpark, Douglas, Isle of Man.

    Nobles Waterpark, Douglas, Isle of Man

    Nobles Waterpark view 2

    Nobles Waterpark, Douglas, Isle of Man



    Why spending time outdoors could help your child’s eyesight

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    Why spending time outdoors could help your child’s eyesight


    Kids seem to spend endless hours on smartphones, games consoles, computers and tablets these days.

    Playing on electronic devices certainly doesn’t help their waistlines, but do you ever wonder what regular device use is doing to their eyesight?

    Full Article


    8 Reasons Why Kids Should Play Outside In Winter

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    Wait. Kids should play outside in winter? In the cold, wet, dreich weather…? Yes! And a big, FAT yes at that! There is a whole range of benefits as to why you should send your wee ones out to play no matter what the weather. Here’s why:


    Exercise is important regardless of the weather


    Riverside Cottage Nursery

    Children who spend time outdoors tend to run around more, as well as climbing, jumping and balancing, so they’re fitter and healthier than kids who spend most of their time indoors. And when they’re on the move in all that fresh air, kids don’t tend to feel the cold as much, either. Bonus!

    Being outdoors will boost their immune system


    Riverside Cottage Nursery

    Embrace the filth! Your bath should need a good scrub after your child has been washed. Children who have regular exposure to dirt, bacteria, animals and insects have stronger immune systems – and who wouldn’t want that for their offspring!

    Nature play will get them thinking creatively

    Riverside Cottage Nursery

    Playing outside usually means kids are entertaining themselves or making up games with friends, often using open-ended natural resources. Enjoying time without video games and other tech is a way to get creative and enjoy using the imagination to have fun, instead of just being given it on a plate.

    Developing resilience is important for life

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    If kids all spend all of the time in centrally heated environments, they don’t develop the resilience they should have to handle life’s challenges! Getting absolutely drenched to the skin or having their hands aching with cold gives kids first-hand experience of why waterproofs, coats and gloves are a good idea – but it’s not until they’ve experienced the discomfort (and the life lesson) that they’ll want to wrap up.

    Outdoor play encourages appreciation of the natural world

    Riverside Cottage Nursery

    Kids who spend time outside in all weathers are more in tune with the seasons and their own body. Being outside in the cold means kids may have a better understanding of why animals hibernate and why trees lose their leaves. They will carry this interest and curiosity into adulthood.

    Developing problem-solving skills is vital

    Riberside Cottage Nursery

    Kids have to calculate and work out a lot of things when they are outside. They learn how to climb a tree or a wall – or where to plant a foot to scale or descend a steep hill. And the best way to problem solve is to work things out for yourself, instead of being shown.

    Kids need Vitamin D!

    Riverside Cottage Nursery

    We all need a good dose of vitamin D to be healthy – but kids need it to absorb calcium and promote bone growth, The best way to get their necessary intake is by spending time in natural sunlight. Get them out there to bask like a lizard!

    It’s important to enjoy the simple things

    Riverside Cottage Nursery

    The sun on your back, the wind in your sails…some children can struggle to find every day life enchanting, or find pleasure in simple things. This is especially so for those who live in privilege, in heated homes with many toys at their disposal and with a wealth of digital entertainment. Children who regularly enjoy getting wet, muddy and cold will be more likely to have an appreciation for the joy of a warm fire, a steaming bowl of soup or a mug of hot chocolate.

     Source: Buzzfeed


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    As December begins and the weather turns a little chillier, it’s interesting for us at Little Forest Folk to observe the change in questions from would-be parents on our site visits.

    “Do children get sick a lot?
    Don’t they catch colds from being outside in the winter?
    Don’t they get cold and wet and freezing?

    This is such an easy question for us to answer as children in our forest nursery get sick far far less than in a conventional nursery.

    Instead of breathing recycled stale air…
    They are running around gulping great big lungfuls of fresh air.

    Instead of touching plastic toys that have had lots of other sticky fingers over them…
    They are embracing nature play, collecting sticks, leaves and other natures bounty.

    Instead of sitting down all day, not really raising their heart rate…
    Our children are climbing, digging, rolling, jumping and swinging, a mixture of bone strengthening, muscle building and cardiovascular exercise.

    Their physical development and physical health is sustained at a high level. Exercise also improves our children’s emotional health, allowing for relaxation and calmness and a heightened sense of well being.

    We also build our immunity playing with dirt, mud and other natural materials, thereby bypassing all the concerns raised in the hygiene hypothesis. Wintering outdoors brings incredible health benefits to children.

    At a time of year when children in the UK generally begin to ease towards a more indoor, sedentary lifestyle our children are actively bounding around in the forest. The plague of coughs, colds, tummy bugs and other childhood diseases that can run rampant in a traditional nursery during winter months don’t really affect us. Of course, we have runny noses all winter, but these are not the green, snotty bacteria runny noses of colds and flu. These are the results of the colder weather and the warmth we feel inside from our exertions coming out in a lovely dribble of constant runny noses!

    Tummy bugs in addition to diseases like chickenpox, hand, foot and mouth which spread like wildlife in groups of small children don’t really get passed around in the forest. Not only are our forest adventurers less susceptible to bugs but when they do pick them up, they are kind enough to not share them with their friends in the forest.

    The immediate health benefits of playing outdoors throughout winter are obvious. Just as important, however, are the long term benefits to children who play outdoors through the colder months. Renewed activity guidelines for the early years by the British Heart Foundation state that 2-5 year olds should be taking at least 3 hours exercise every day to benefit their current health but also to install future health habits and benefits.

    “Children of pre-school age who are capable of walking unaided should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (3 hours), spread throughout the day.

    — BHF National Centre

    It can be difficult to factor in these minimum exercise requirements in a day that is mostly indoor based, but take children outside and their natural inclination is to move. Our children are on the move at least 6 hours a day. They are having fun, they aren’t being cajoled to move, they are simply playing. But that playing is reducing their chances of being a part of the terrifyingly large 31.2% of British children who are obese (Public Health England’s Health Survey for England 2014).

    “31.2% of children aged 2 to 15 were classed as either overweight or obese

    — Public Health England’s Health Survey for England 2014

    And do the kids get cold? Not if they are dressed correctly! Remember, for each adult step, a child requires 2 or 3, so they are already more active than we realise. Indeed, we more often hear complaints about the cold from our teachers instead of the children! Just make sure they are rugged up as our kit list suggests and your little one will be able to run around outdoors all day long.

    “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.

    — Alfred Wainwright


    The World Health Organisation regards childhood obesity as one of the most serious global public health challenges of the 21st century. Obese children are more likely to develop childhood diabetes along with various other health problems. This along with the news that doctors have started prescribing vitamin D tablets to children following an upsurge in the number of children developing rickets is astonishing, when there is a simple and easy way to significantly reduce the chances of experiencing these health problems.

    This is in addition to behavioural issues, such as ADHD which evidence indicates can be alleviated by spending more time moving outdoors. Kids can still learn while playing, and indeed what we are showing at Little Forest Folk is that play is indeed the best way that 2 to 5 year olds do develop a curiosity about the world and spark a passion for learning.

    Furthermore, scientists have found that instances of myopia (short-sightedness) are less prevalent in children who spend more time outdoors and are more used to focusing on items in the mid to long range instead of close-up.

    There are so many benefit to physical and emotional well-being if you just make one simple change in life. Let children play outside. Regularly, with joy, all year around. Don’t think that because the days are drawing in that you need to cower indoors.

    Our 2-5 year olds will still be giggling, running, engaging, climbing and smiling for 6 hours every day throughout winter. Their health will be significantly stronger as a consequence.

    11 barriers that prevent kids from playing outside

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    The Wild Network compiled the following list in hopes that we can overcome these barriers and put kids back where they belong — playing in Nature.

    The Wild Network is a UK-based organization that promotes ‘wild time’ for children. This time is spent outdoors, roaming free, exploring nature and escaping the insidious allure of screens, but few children are able to enjoy it these days.

    We like to encourage parents to loosen their kids’ schedules, relax the rules around supervision, and trust their kids to look out for themselves. But sometimes it’s not just about letting go; it’s also about overcoming the barriers that have been constructed in our society that hinder children’s ability to roam free.

    The Wild Network has compiled a list of what it sees as the ‘11 profound and systemic barriers that actively prevent us all from getting Wild Time.’ By understanding what these barriers are, it becomes easier to overcome them, thus giving our children what they so desperately need. But, as you’ll see, some of these are difficult to overcome alone. They require whole communities and educational systems to change their mindsets.

    There are four categories:


    Stranger danger
    Parents’ fear of potential kidnapping has cut kids’ roaming distances to 10 percent of what they once were a generation ago, despite this fear being largely driven by the media, not statistics.

    Risk-averse culture
    Parents must be careful with the words they use around their children. Constant warnings create a sense of fear surrounding the most ordinary of activities, like playing tag, wrestling, or swinging. Stand back and let the kids be.

    Dangerous streets
    Many neighborhoods are not safe for children to play, with gang violence, harassment, and drug use happening all around. The Wild Network asks, “How can we work to create a feeling of safe neighbourhoods and safer places for kids, as they grow? How can we let them be free, but feel safe?” Communities need to find a way to provide safety for their resident children, whatever form that may take.

    Cars are the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. between one and 16. Parents have a right to be worried, but this is something they cannot tackle alone. What’s required are new laws forcing cars to slow down, better pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and bike paths, as well as consistent legal enforcement.


    Time-poor parents
    Parents are so busy with work and lack of childcare support that it’s hard to find time to take kids outdoors. And yet this needs to be a priority. Without exposure to wilderness, how will kids learn to love it?

    Nature-starved curriculum
    Schools could be a good substitute (in part) for parents who are too busy to go outside, but the curriculum is sadly lacking outdoor components. One thing schools could do immediately (at least in Canada, where I live) is start sending kids out for recess, rain or shine, instead of having automatic indoor recesses as soon as the weather turns bad.

    Lack of free-range play
    Pardon the crude comparison, but think of buying meat. When it comes to chicken, “We know that free range is better than battery.” So why do we keep our kids cooped up like battery hens? This becomes a human rights concern, especially when kids are getting less outdoor time each day than prison inmates.


    Vanishing green space
    We need to protect the green spaces the remain in our cities, since they are vanishing to developers and slashed municipal budgets at a rapid pace. Even the smallest corner, with grass, trees, flowers, and insects, can be a learning space for children.

    Play INC.
    Children’s play is now viewed as a business, and yet it does not have to be.

    “The natural world offers mystery, creativity and gameplay for free and in abundance. It does however require guides, mentors, catalysts and time to develop connection, relationships, wonder and awe.”

    So instead of taking your kid to the indoor playground, the gymnastics club, or the swimming pool, take him or her on a long hike. Don’t spend a cent, but come away feeling rewarded and refreshed.

    A plethora of material belongings can make Nature seem dull by comparison. Don’t let that happen to your child. Keep them in constant contact with the outdoors so that they can retain perspective on how nature never grows old, but toys go out of style.


    Rise of screen time
    The Wild Network sees screens as the #1 barrier to kids playing outdoors, but they’re not going away anytime soon. It’s of utmost importance for parents to establish balance between our screen-addicted culture and a connection to the outdoors. Turn it off. Set limits. “Make time for Wild Time, offline, outside, liking other stuff like plants, trees, the sun, the rain and all the cool creatures.”

    SNP plan to tackle Scotland’s obesity crisis by restricting supermarket offers and restaurant meal sizes.

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    Supermarket price promotions on junk food are to be restricted and restaurant meal sizes could be capped under controversial plans unveiled by SNP ministers to tackle Scotland’s obesity epidemic.

    A new Scottish Government diet and obesity strategy, published for consultation, said ministers are “minded” to clamp down on promotions on food that is high in fat, salt and sugar.

    This could include a ban on multi-buy offers on products such as crisps and sweets, or shops temporarily discounting their price in order to increase sales.

    Among the other controversial proposals are introducing portion limits on the size of takeaway, pub and restaurant meals. Food outlets would be forced to attach labels on menus and packaging disclosing how many calories their dishes contain.

    The ‘state guardians’ assigned to each pre-school child under the SNP’s controversial Named Person scheme will “offer referrals to family healthy living and weight interventions” for those youngsters deemed to be too fat.

    Medics and health campaigners led by Cancer Research UK welcomed the “bold proposals”, while TV chef Jamie Oliver praised the Scottish Government for its “bold, brave and trailblazing move to transform our kids’ diets” and urged Westminster to follow suit.

    But the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), which includes the large supermarket chains, warned they risked hitting “hard-pressed households already struggling with inflation and other rising costs.”

    The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said the SNP had to understand the impact on “on every local fishmonger, takeaway, deli, corner-shop and baker” before they pressed ahead, especially given the economy is on a “knife edge.”

    The No to Named Persons Campaign warned state guardians in the form of health visitors would be used to “spy on what mums and dads feed their kids.”




    The strategy argued that tough action is required to tackle the country’s diet, with two-thirds of Scottish adults overweight including 29 per cent who are classified as obese.

    The most recent Scottish health survey found more than half of children eat sweets or chocolate at least once a day, 33 per cent crisps or savoury snacks and 35 per cent non-diet soft drinks. In addition 42 per cent eat chips at least twice a week.

    Unveiling the plan, Aileen Campbell, the SNP’s Public Health Minister, said: “We are putting forward a package of bold measures designed to help people make healthier choices, empower personal change and show real leadership.

    “Now we need people who live, work and consume food and drink in Scotland to tell us what they think.” Ministers plan to draw up their final proposals by early next year.

    The strategy said that food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar is “cheap, widely available, and heavily promoted”. This means Scots are consuming “significantly more calories than we need”, with 20 per cent of calories and half of sugar coming from so-called “discretionary foods”.

    Although the blueprint said there had been “constructive” discussions with the food and drink industry, it said this voluntary approach had not achieved “sufficient commitment” to change, particularly in relation to promotions.

    It cited research showing that 35 per cent of all food and drink bought in shops is on price promotion, with around half that total accounted for by products high in fat, salt and sugar.

    Ministers are still considering the specific measures they will introduce but the blueprint said this could include restrictions on multi-buy offers and temporary price cuts.

    They are also weighing up how to define which products should be caught by the restrictions, with possible criteria including their nutritional value, sugar and fat content and calories.

    In addition, the strategy outlines plans to crack down on businesses that provide “food and drink purchased and consumed outside the home”, arguing that the evidence suggest this sector is “skewed towards less healthy options.”

    Ministers are to work with Food Standards Scotland, NHS public health officials and industry leaders to produce the country’s first “specific strategy” by summer next year.

    This will include action on calorie labelling on restaurant and takeaway meals, options for imposing portion size and calorie caps and restrictions on promotions and marketing.

    To reduce the percentage of children starting primary school overweight or obese, the Scottish Government plans to use health visitors, who will act as the youngsters’ ‘state guardians’ under the controversial Named Person scheme.

    The strategy stated that they will be tasked with working “with families to promote healthy eating, portion control and mealtime behaviours and, where appropriate, offer referrals to family healthy living and weight interventions.”


    SNP ministers said they would also “strongly press” the UK Government to ban TV advertising for unhealthy foods before the 9pm watershed. If no action is taken, they will demand that the necessary powers are devolved.

    The Scottish Government will also examine imposing new restrictions on advertising unhealthy food at locations “used by a high proportion of children”, such as visitor attractions, and on trains and buses.

    Ministers will lobby the UK Government to extend the sugar tax on fizzy drinks to include sweet, milk-based beverages that contain less than 95 per cent milk.

    The Scottish Retail Consortium, which represents food retailers including the large supermarket chains, backed the aim of encouraging customers to make healthier choices and said there was much the industry could welcome in the consultation.

    But Ewan MacDonald-Russell, its head of policy, warned imposing separate Scottish rules over labelling “could be confusing to consumers and costly to businesses” operating across the UK.

    He added: “Government must take care that any measures which limit promotions should be based on clear and relevant evidence which assess the impact of the proposals both on health, but also on consumers so not to unfairly hit hard-pressed households already struggling with inflation and other rising costs.”

    Andy Willox, the FSB’s Scottish policy convener, said: “These proposals could have huge implications for Scotland’s independent food businesses, many of whom already face spiralling overheads and challenging competition.”

    Gregor McNie, Cancer Research UK’s senior public affairs manager in Scotland, called for regulation to restrict multi-buy offers on junk food.

    He said: “Obesity is linked to 13 different types of cancer. Measures to help us enjoy a better diet and fill our shopping baskets with healthy food will make it easier for us all to stack the odds against getting cancer.”

    Dr Peter Bennie, chair of the British Medical Association in Scotland, said: “The scale of the challenge facing Scotland means that we need bold and comprehensive action across every part of society in Scotland if we are to successfully reduce levels of overweight and obesity in future years. Failing to do this will only add to the already significant cost pressures facing the health service in future years.”

    Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said: “We very much hope that the consultation will result in the bold action required to tackle the problems that exist.”


    “Our child obesity solutions wouldn’t be acceptable for zoo animals”

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    Obesity is an environmental issue not a disease. Children growing up in the 1950s and 1960s were not obese. Virtually all people over 60 (and many younger) remember walking to infant school without an adult. Most travelled unaccompanied from the age of five after being taken for a couple of weeks by a parent. Children would also be able to run around in their own street and go on errands at this age. In other words, they had daily healthy exercise at no cost in money or time to the government and their parents.

    Since then, the car has increasingly dominated residential roads, which are therefore more dangerous. Parents sensibly react to the increased danger and keep their children penned in. This unhealthy trend predates mobile phones or computer games.

    It is known from zoos that if mammals cannot run around outside their houses they get obese and display repetitive behaviour and poor mental health. Crucially, if their environment is improved – by enabling them to run around more freely – their health improves.

    These facts have been knowingly ignored by most experts. Public Health England (PHE) recommends, as its main solution to child obesity, replacing sugar with sweeteners. And last week we heard it will be setting targets for food manufacturers to shrink pizzas, ready meals and burgers in a bid to reduce daily calorie intake.

    Our children are being offered solutions that would not be acceptable for mammals in zoos. If zoo experts said that the main solution to obesity caused by being penned in was to replace some of the mammal’s food with smaller portions of calorie-free synthetic food, there would be an outcry from animal lovers. Yet this is what PHE is doing.

    The NHS offers tailored, personalised help to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, including education on healthy eating and lifestyle, help to lose weight and bespoke physical exercise programmes – an expensive solution, which will reach relatively few people and divert resources from areas where treatment is needed.

    Experts also constantly blame parents for not taking their children to the park or countryside more often. But most parents never did regularly take their children out to play. They didn’t have to – their children played happily in the street.

    It is vital that children do play outdoors unsupervised, and not just for the exercise. In any game, children have to agree the rules for themselves, they have to play fairly (or the fun stops), they settle disputes, reach llmpromises, modify the rules when the situation changes (somebody joins or leaves). They learn how to cope with life. This is very sophisticated personal development in which children acquire competences for life. These skills are unique to human beings. No number of computer games, exercise cartoons, Facebook activity etc can compensate for children’s free play. No organised activities such as piano/swimming lessons, sports/dance clubs can give the same personal and social development. Parents who daily ferry their children from club to activity are clearly committed to their children, but these activities do not compensate for the lost benefits of play.

    When advisers do proffer healthy lifestyle options, the advice they give is flawed. My research has shown that children and their parents want to play in sight of home as they have done for countless generations. To make things worse, transport experts seem to assume that children remain static except for getting to and from school. “Journeys” are only counted if they are, like adults, going to work, the supermarket or the golf club. The majority of children’s transport is on foot, scooter or bicycle, consisting of short distances between home, friends’ homes, back of the garages, green verges, or patches of public open space. On a well-designed housing area with 50 children who are able to play outside they would make more than 280,000 journeys each year. Yet these are ignored by town planners as they are usually less than 100 metres. A massive amount of healthy and non-polluting transport is ignored. School activities are of limited benefit as children only go to school half the days in the year. The other half are weekends and holidays, and in any case children always played out on school days as well.

    If children play out, adults are more neighbourly and keep an eye out for one another’s children. However, satnavs direct drivers down side roads to avoid congestion on busy roads, making side roads even more dangerous. We need a new designation for residential roads. Priority should be given to pedestrians to encourage healthy lifestyles and promote neighbourliness.

    Leave it any longer and we will have another generation of parents who accept it is correct to keep children cooped up in the house.

    Rob Wheway is director of the Children’s Play Advisory Service