A growing body of evidence suggests that play patterns among children are changing; fewer children are playing outdoors and outdoor play is increasingly centered on the home rather than natural settings.
This decline has been attributed to lack of safe spaces for outdoor play, parents’ anxieties about their children’s safety, and increasing pressure on children to participate in structured activities, among other factors.
Children’s reduced contact with nature has given rise to significant concern among those who work for, with and on behalf of children as regular access to the natural environment is fundamental to children’s health, development and wellbeing. Furthermore, lack of access to natural spaces infringes on children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC).
The Heritage Council seeks to address this issue in a number of ways, including: awareness-raising through the commissioning and dissemination of related research; supporting the provision of direct access to the outdoors for children through initiatives such as the Heritage in Schools Scheme and National Heritage Week and advocating for the development of a national policy relating to children and the outdoors.