Nowadays, it’s common to hear parents talk about their youth spent playing outside, whether in the street or in tree houses in the garden, often bemoaning that children these days spend too long on ‘devices’ and not enough time exploring the great outdoors.
However, for some children, wanting to play outside is a no-brainer – the problem comes when the adults get involved
Take for example school girl Abigail Early, who this week hit the headlines after the local council wrote a letter to her mum asking that her and other children stopped playing in and climbing trees
However, Abigail wasn’t standing for any of it. She wrote back to the bosses of the Crofton Place estate she lives on to find out just what was so wrong with children climbing trees
Abigail explained how she plays in the trees – using them as a camp or for hide and seek, but never damaging any branches: “I am part of a lovely and respectful bunch of kids and who love climbing trees because we love our friends and exercise,” she said. How can you argue with that from a nine-year-old child?
The council’s letter asked parents to stop letting children climb trees and large shrubs, as it is causing damage to them which will cost extra expenditure to fix, although they didn’t want to limit children having fun in the neighbourhood.
Yet, Abigail went on not only to defend her tree-climbing but put the onus on the council to prove there was really a problem that needed to be solved. Her demands: to know the number of complaints that had been made about the tree climbing youths; the estimated cost of damage thought to have been caused by the children; a report from a ‘tree expert that clarified that children climbing trees damaged them and details of a new ‘designated play area’ for children whose parents were already paying for the maintenance of grass and trees in the estate.
‘Children have rights too and I look forward to your reply’, she signed off the letter.
Abigail’s mum told the Daily Mail that she believes it was a number of elderly people who had complained about the 7 or 8 children in the area, however, most people were extremely supportive of the children playing outside
Of course, we think trees are the perfect places for children to play, as long as its done safely. Tree houses provide a great option for this, especially in a private garden setting. Climbing really does feed into imaginative game-playing, so it’s certainly an important part of a child’s outdoor experience in tempting them away from excess screen time on the internet, watching TV or gaming.
However, if local council bosses really are worried about children damaging trees, then maybe investment needs to be made into a nearby adventure playground. Wooden play structures will work in a similar way to stimulate playtime, and provide a more durable option for the children to explore and enjoy.