Imaginative Outdoor Play? The rising phenomenon transforming family life

Timbalaya starts from a totally different place to other visitor attractions.It is all about imaginative outdoor play…the kind that children create in an environment filled with nature. It is about adventures, discovery, making up stories and being immersed in all the surroundings have to offer. Regretfully the connection with nature and the life-building and enhancing benefits that playing in the outdoors bring have been lost lost in at least two generations.Commentators on both sides of the Atlantic agree that for the past 50 years we have lost contact with nature. Children need to get back outside and into the natural environment for the sake of their health and wellbeing. Governments are endorsing conservation and wildlife charity reports calling for a return to the great outdoors.Research shows when children play outdoors they are not only physically healthier – play helps prevent obesity and heart related diseases – but also their cognitive, social and emotional development is impacted. Symptoms of children who are diagnosed with ADHD improve. Nature Deficit Disorder*, was the phrase coined by Richard Louv about a decade ago, describing how children, families communities and the environment all suffer, although the cure is right on the doorstep – literally. The National Trust** report by Stephen Moss entitled “Damaging Britain’s Children” identified that the young are losing contact with nature at such a dramatic rate that it impacts on their health. He attributes it to safety, traffic, lure of computer games and parental anxieties keeping them indoors. His research shows that disassociation from the natural world impairs children’s capacity to learn through experience. “The natural world doesn’t come with an instruction leaflet, so it teaches you to use your creative imagination.”Outside, children are far more likely to use their imagination, inventing games which in turn promote autonomy, decision making and organisational skills. Their social interaction, communication, vocabulary and numeracy skills are enhanced by playing. Learning happens in a fun and almost sub-conscious way, they learn through the experience.“Children are at their best when they demonstrate traits using their minds, bodies and spirits to learn, discover and achieve. The outdoors provides the perfect laboratory for discovering the inquisitive facets of a child’s personality,” was the finding of a National Wildlife Federation Whole Child Report.So while outdoor adventure play is a growing trend within the wider visitor attraction market, why are there so few attractions that combine natural play, imagination and adventures for children under 11? This is the case for Timbalaya.Timbalaya is a story-led outdoor natural play attraction, where children and families are outside using their imagination to fuel their adventures and discoveries. It provides the opportunity for multi-generational families to be together in the natural world and away from technology, bringing benefits of shared experiences they cannot easily fine within the home. “It brings into a visitor attraction an emerging trend to balance the benefits of play with the benefits of nature. It embraces the natural environment, working with it, not against it. Built structures are light touch, designed to work with the landscape, enhancing it and encouraging a closer connection,” said Timbalaya Guardian Rosalind Johnson.” Most of all, families have fun playing together.”