Playday 2021 – Nature Based Therapeutic Play

4th of August is ‘Playday’ – The Annual Celebration of Children’s Rights to Play

Creative Reality by Kate Macairt

Man In Woods

Playday 2021, it feels really important this year for us to contemplate what PLAY is and its function in our lives.  In the last year we have all become so much more reliant on our screens. The pandemic has forced children to spend home school days on the laptop, many of us have become used to sitting for hours in front of the machine as we swap office for home. The lure of online gaming has teenagers locked in bedrooms for hours – well we might say – at least they are connecting with friends – but what sort of a connection is it?

“We don’t allow our young children to drink alcohol or take drugs, we insist they wear seatbelts, cycle helmets and sun cream. And yet, we are allowing the silent killer of excessive recreational screen and inactivity to go unchecked.” (association of Play Industries).

The Importance of Play

Playday 2021

Research evidence points to the highly damaging effect this growing ‘addiction’ is having on who we are and how we are relating to each other and our environment. Sitting down for long periods is detrimental to physical health, online avatars, enhanced selfies and Instagram/Facebook persona alter our ability to connect to others in real-time and has negative impact on social skills.

Our general sense of well-being already ‘wobbled’ by the fear of this particular illness, is being further undermined by the virtual reality we are slipping into. We are not algorithms (see Yuval Harari book Homo Deus!)  we are sensory creatures, we need to relate, engage and make our own choices in order to feel secure and optimistic.

When you watch a baby, infant, child playing on the beach or in a park you are witnessing experiential inter-relationship with other people, animals, and our living world. You will see the child make choices and overcome problems, curious and experimental they are asserting their Self and learning how they fit into the physical world.

Playday 2021 provides a day to focus on Play and its vital importance to human development. All mammals learn to control the body through physical exploration of the environment, trial and error builds resilience and the human child requires much the same as a bear cub in her early months and years. It is through playful activity that infants learn to trust others and place, play is essential for the development of self- awareness and empathy.  Our Mother Earth needs healing; we humans need healing. Our relationship with the earth is reciprocal, the need to encourage love, caretaking of our planet is urgent, creative play in an outdoor space is an effective and efficacious prescription.

Playday for all

Playday 2021 Therapeutic Play

This call for Playday is not one just for the ‘kids.’  It is time that young and old got out from the walls which confine us, and take a walk, get a breath of fresh air and re-stimulate our sensory network. It is time for adults, whether parent, teacher, social worker etc to be the positive role model for our young.

We adults need to learn how to provide opportunities for children to explore and experience sensory, constructive and narrative play. We need to offer activities and events which provide the children and young people with as much ‘fun’ as the online gaming.  We need to ensure that technology exists and works for us and be wary of slipping to far into existing and working for technology.

Certificate in Nature Based Therapeutic Skills

Online Training

CLR Certificate in Nature Based Therapeutic Skills Online Training

The new CLR Certificate in Nature-based Therapeutic Skills  – a new online training, has been designed with this role-modelling in mind. The 4 modules have been developed over several years and encourage you the practitioner to connect with the outdoor environment and learn the skills to feel confident in facilitating safe and beneficial sessions outdoors with groups or individuals.

You will discover core therapeutic and nature play skills you can use to enhance your group work or individual practice, learn about the impact of stress and adversity on human behaviour. More importantly, effective methods you can use to encourage and support positive experiences.

This new online training is aimed at Forest School Leaders, Teachers, Teaching Assistants, Counsellors, Therapists, Social workers, Parents and Health practitioners.

Please see the website for more details about this new Nature-based Therapeutic Play online course which starts 4th November 2021.

By Kate Macairt, Creative Spark , Director Circle of Life Rediscovery