We have been promoting the benefits of outdoor play for over a decade, yet we know that there is a play imbalance, with less and less time devoted to the kind of messy, outdoors play we know is so good for children.
We wanted to get a true picture of the state of play, so we surveyed over 12,000 parents around the world. This research revealed that on average children spend less time outdoors than a prison inmate.
To bring this statistic to life we filmed real prisoners in Wabash Maximum Security Prison in Indiana, USA, to find out what reducing their outdoors time would mean to them and highlight the play imbalance.
We worked with international education advisor, Sir Ken Robinson, whose talk ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ is the second most watched TED talk ever, to explore the vital role of real play in children’s development. He is now Chair of the Dirt is Good Advisory Board and working with us to promote the value of real play around the world.
Real play is the type of unstructured, creative, imaginative playing that is being lost as children have less opportunity to play outdoors. Yet, this type of play is essential (as well as fun) as it has a positive impact on children’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development.
Free the Kids helped us to shine a light on how this type of play is being squeezed out of modern life. The Dirt is Good movement is working to change this and promote a more play-friendly world through initiatives like Outdoor Classroom Day and the Wild Explorers App.