Associate feature: Outdoors is key to rebuilding post-pandemic wellbeing
Outdoor play and learning will be key to restoring children’s health and wellbeing after a year of disrupted education and care.
Before COVID-19, the Active Healthy Kids Scotland ‘report card’ found that only around a third of Scottish primary school children played outside regularly; two-thirds did not have the habit at all.
The last 12 months will have done little to improve these statistics, yet lockdown revealed how essential outdoor activity and exercise is to everyone’s health. Going outdoors very quickly became an indispensable part of lockdown life.
People’s own experiences back up a solid base of research that consistently finds that children of all ages experience better health, resilience and emotional wellbeing if they play and learn outdoors.
Scotland has drawn world attention for its progressive policies on outdoor play and learning but the goal is to see these policies actioned widely across the Scottish education system.
Scotland has embraced the outdoor concept in its education and early learning frameworks, but we are looking at a cultural shift if we are to deliver all the benefits of outdoor play and learning.
We have had great support and commitment from government and many local authorities and community organisations throughout Scotland have benefited but this is a national ambition. We want going outside to play and learn to become second nature to everyone.
Thrive Outdoors is building on the research and the policy support to help provide the practical aspects of outdoor play and learning.
We want to give teachers, practitioners, carers and managers an understanding of how to use outdoor learning, and the confidence to deliver great engaging lessons in the outdoors.
It will create a healthier and happier Scotland.
Rachel Cowper is Thrive Outdoor programme manager at Inspiring Scotland.
This article was sponsored by Inspiring Scotland.