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TV presenter signs up to outdoor play pledge and Out to Play guide launched

TV presenter signs up to outdoor play pledge and Out to Play guide launched

Scottish wildlife filmmaker and television presenter Gordon Buchanan – best known for his close encounter with a curious polar bear on BBC’s The Polar Bear Family and Me – has added his name to a growing list of people and organisations committed to getting kids out to play.

The raft of pledges will be announced today to coincide with the launch of Inspiring Scotland and Scottish Government’s Out To Play guidance by Children’s Minister Maree Todd.

Out to Play provides guidance for setting up an outdoor nursery, or to help indoor nurseries increase the capacity through using outdoor space. It promotes the benefits of outdoor play and learning for children’s health and wellbeing and academic attainment.

Buchanan has signed up to the Scottish Coalition for Outdoor Play and Learning Position Statement alongside 37 other names in a second round of pledges to the commitment. The new signatories take the total number backing the document to 87, adding to the 50 who signed up in October last year.

Buchanan said: “Encouraging children from all backgrounds and abilities to get outside, learn about and experience the great outdoors is imperative and inspiring. If we are to improve the health and wellbeing of our children and instil in them an appreciation for the beautiful world in which we live, we must reconnect them with the natural world. In a time of declining health and catastrophic climate change, this is more important than ever. I’m proud to add my name to Scotland’s Outdoor Play and Learning Coalition statement and to encourage all of Scotland’s children to get outside and play.”

Research from around the world demonstrates the enormous benefits of getting outside to play for children’s health, wellbeing and development, and the right to play is enshrined in United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Position Statement was launched by Ms. Todd at an outdoor nursery in Glasgow last year with Scottish Government and Inspiring Scotland, with original signatories including bodies as diverse as the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Glasgow Science Centre and NHS Health Scotland.

Ms Todd said: “Playing outdoors is good for children’s health and wellbeing, develops their social skills and is great fun!  The expansion of funded early learning and childcare provides an opportunity to redefine the type of experience we offer children during their early years with a focus on the outdoors.”

Helen Chambers, Deputy Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland said: “We believe that getting outdoors and playing and learning in the natural world is a crucial part of a child’s development, and we want all children in Scotland to be able to do that. In creating the Out to Play guide and collaborating on the Position Statement, we hope to make this a reality.

“We know that there are many short and long-term health benefits to active outdoor play, but we also know that it helps children to thrive socially and culturally – to make friends, have adventures, and learn about themselves and others. We also believe that in embedding outdoor play in children’s lives, we will foster in them an appreciation of the natural world, which is vital if we are to respect, cherish, and care for the environment. It is fantastic to see so many others share our vision.”

Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate said: “There is significant and growing interest in how children and young people access the outdoors to play, learn, develop and have fun.

“There is a long historical tradition of outdoor experiences for children in Scotland, marked by innovation stretching back over two hundred years. There is significant evidence that playing outdoors is more than just fun: it can contribute positively to child development, child health, and early learning.”

Read Out to Play: Practical guidance for creating outdoor play experiences in early learning and childcare 

Scotland’s Coalition for Outdoor Play and Learning Position Statement

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