Wild backyard fun

Wild play lives on in Logan

Childhood play is “endangered”, according to local youth advocates, but the solution is right here in Logan.

Two of only six playgrounds across the country that focus on child-led, free play are in Logan City.

One opened this month at Yarrabilba; the other has been at Eagleby for the past two years.

Created by local advocacy group The Australian Institute of Play, the playgrounds are said to encourage creativity and fun – qualities CEO Hyahno Moser said were “missing from modern childhoods”.

“Childhood is in crisis and a lot of that is to do with a significant cultural shift with how children spend their free time – a lot of that is spend largely indoors, sedentary and screen-based,” Mr Moser said.

“That in itself is fraught with risk and dangers, and that area of childhood has been left largely unsupervised and unregulated.

“Whereas in real life, childhood has been completely over-protected and over-regulated to the point that children don’t even have a file in their brain that outdoor play is interesting and fun.”

He said some people called it a “re-wiring of childhood”.

The playground at Eagleby, called Joomunjie Land, was designed by Eagleby South State School students.

It consists of a bunch of loose items – bits of timber, pallets, tyres, crates, water, dirt – anything with “play value”.

The aim is that children can then create their own playgrounds with nearly endless possibilities – the only limitation being their imagination.

One Eagleby student, seven-year-old Amity, said it was “the best place on Earth”.

“When I signed in, I realised that this place was going to be amazing for me,” she said.

“It changed my life because I am much happier, I eat more at Joomunjie Land.

“I don’t get anxiety and stuff here, so it really means a lot to me.”

Another student said his friendships doubled, while another said it helped her learn.

“It changes my day because I’m not always on my phone or tablet and I have something interactive to do,” 10-year-old Isla said.

“I don’t just have to go home and lay in my bed because I’m bored.”

Ms Moser said kids were making maternity wards, computer labs, and shops.

“It’s a play sanctuary, because play is endangered and it needs protection, and we are the play conservationists,” he said.

He said while screens and the covid-19 lockdown had contributed to a decrease in outdoor play, they were not the cause.

“They have just filled a gap that was created by parents smothering childhood,” Mr Moser said.

“It is being done out of love, but while we need to make sure our children are safe, we’ve created another problem.”

He said an over-emphasis on safety has limited children’s “opportunities to do what kids really want to be doing”.

“Which is having fun with friends, being free, challenging themselves, and being creative and imaginative,” he said.

“They can’t do that in real life, but they can online.

“And that is having a huge impact on our ability to be social and creative.”

He said social anxiety was growing in young children, leading to “school refusal” and an increase in homeschooling.

Mr Hoser said the new adventure playgrounds helped combat these issues.


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