What is Wild Play?

"Wild Play" sounds like a scary proposition, however studies have shown that children who engage in this type of play-making in a natural environmental setting experience great benefits in terms of increased self esteem, they display more creativity, have better logic and problem-solving skills.

In a report commissioned by Centennial Parklands on the subject of "Children's Gardens", the benefits of outdoor play, or as we like to call it "Wild Play", were highlighted as:

  • allowing children independent freedom for exploration and discovery is important for development.

  • enabling play in a natural setting is equally as important as classroom learning activities.

  • children intuitively use their environment for play, so the diverse landscape therefore contributes to the development of intuitive perception.

  • too much artificial stimulation may cause exhaustion and produce a loss of health. The natural environment is a salve for this.

  • children participate in more physical play when outdoors than indoors. There is a proven increase in motor fitness and development in outdoor play spaces.

  • outdoor environments are more conducive to dramatic and creative play.There is more group play and cooperation in outdoor play than indoor play.

  • nature play has also shown numerous proven mental health benefits.

  • nature play constitutes a vital role in health and wellbeing.

  • experiencing nature is an important means of releasing stress and improving wellbeing.

  • contact with nature increases self-esteem and enhances school performance.

  • there is a proven link between outdoor curricula and enhanced learning.

  • there is a proven link between contact with green space and enhanced capacity to pay attention.

  • studies have shown that contact with nature reduces attention deficit disorder symptoms.

  • studies have also linked outdoor play with improved behaviour and less anxiety and depression.

  • the freedom to play and move in an environment is the way that children learn to distinguish between self and other.

  • outdoor play allows children to establish their own relationships with the surrounding world.

  • contact with nature fosters awareness of the interrelationships between living organisms.

  • helps overcome the notion that people are “separate from” rather than an integral part of nature.

The Ian Potter Children's Wild Play Garden in Centennial Park will be a space where imaginations can run wild.

Through formal education programs and nature-based free play in the Garden, urban kids will:

  • overcome fears and discover the beauty and joy of their natural environment

  • develop a desire to protect the environment –  providing a solution to arguably the single biggest environmental problem of our era

  • develop skills (problem solving, risk management, self-esteem, social skills, cognitive and gross motor skills)