Nature Play Week is promoting healthy, outdoor play for children across Victoria and NSW for the second year in a row.

From April 11 to 19,  a variety of official and unaffiliated events will be held to encourage children and their families to spend more time in natural settings, including outings at populars parks, specially-designed activities at zoos, cultural, indigenous experiences and even a launch event with children’s author Alison Lester.

Organised by the Kids in Nature Network (KINN) in partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, co-founder Cecile van der Burgh said the event aims to promote good behaviours and health for all families.

“Nature Play Week is a signature event that celebrates initiatives of all shapes and sizes that reconnect kids with nature and the outdoors. The week features over 65 events put together by more than 40 organisations in in Victoria, Australia and beyond,” van der Burgh said. “The week includes unique nature play experiences for kids and workshops for parents and educators.”

The initiative is also supported by the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Playgroup Victoria and is part of the broader Active April government initiative.

Girl and rock pool

A young girl peers into a seaside rock pool. Photo: Emily Barrow.

Not only is the event itself becoming a popular part of the calendar for families looking for things to keep the kids occupied in the holidays, it’s also firmly rooted in research that shows how beneficial these kinds of activities can be, while also highlighting how little children are actually doing them

For instance, van der Burgh points out one report that shows that, on average, one in ten Australian kids play outdoors just once per week or less. However, this is just one example of a growing body of research that indicates we need to work harder to motivate and inspire children to engage with their wider environment.

“Kids in Nature Network is a catalyst for rebuilding the connection between our kids and their natural world in Victoria, Australia. We are a cross-sectoral network of thought leaders from the health, education, environment, outdoor, recreation, arts and community development sectors.”

“Since 2011, we have held over a dozen of networking seminars at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne with local and international speakers including children’s author Graeme Base, Dr. Mardie Townsend, Dr. Tim Gill, film-maker David Bond, Dr. Michael Ungar and many others. We have co-hosted the Nature Connect Conference in 2014 together with the Australian Conservation Foundation featuring Richard Louv, author and co-founder of the Children and Nature Network in the USA,” van der Burgh says. “We recently presented our work at the World Parks Congress, the largest gathering of conservation professionals in the world.”

So if you were looking for another excuse to get the kids out of the house these holidays, this is it. And while many of the events are primarily available in Victoria, a number of NSW based events have sprung up with even more to join in future years.

Visit the Nature Play Week website for event details and information on how to get involved.