MEDIA RELEASE: A LACK OF REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE IS PUTTING CHILDREN – AND THE PLANET – AT RISK

28th October 2018

Time outdoors is critical if children are to develop 21st century skills and be the future guardians of the natural world

 

Project Dirt is calling on teachers around the country to get outdoors on 1 November for Outdoor Classroom Day. The organisation is warning that without real-world outdoor experiences, today’s children won’t be prepared for the future and to tackle the world’s biggest problems like climate change.

However, the time that children spend outdoors is in dramatic decline: on average, children spend an hour or less outside per day, with one in ten never playing outdoors.1 Yet 97% of teachers worldwide believe that time to play outdoors throughout the school day is critical for children to reach their full potential.2

Play helps children develop the 21st century skills that they need for a good adulthood, such as resilience, collaboration and problem-solving. Playing outdoors as part of the school day helps children learn when they are back in the classroom; 65% of teachers surveyed say that children’s ability to focus on a task is improved after playing outdoors,3 and 62% say that children are better able to retain information.4 Outdoor play also connects children to the natural world; 86% of teachers surveyed say that playing outdoors gives children a better understanding of the environment.5

Taking lessons outdoors at school is good for both making that lesson itself memorable and for developing wider skills that you don’t pick up in a classroom. There is a wealth of literature that suggests that environmental stewardship and connection with place is strongly connected with the amount of time we are immersed in it as children.6 One study found that direct experiences with nature had a bigger impact on subsequent engagement with pro-environmental behaviour than their formal education.7

A generation of environmentally-aware resilient problem-solvers is what the world needs to survive. That’s why Outdoor Classroom Day campaigners advocate that outdoor play and learning should be part of every day for every child, at school and at home. The campaign has already reached children in over 100 countries since launching globally in 2016. Over 2.1 million children have been registered to take part in Outdoor Classroom Day in 2018 so far.

Cath Prisk, Outdoor Classroom Day Global Campaign Director and author of the ‘Muddy hands’ report, to be published on the day, said:

“It’s time for the outdoors to be taken seriously. The evidence is there – children who play outdoors are more resilient and adaptable and make better decisions. They are happier, healthier and less likely to experience mental health issues. Learning through experience gives lessons real-life meaning – a child who builds and looks after a bee hotel will care more about their survival than learning about the diminishing bee population from a textbook. Play and learning outdoors is simply critical to the survival of people and planet.”

‘Muddy hands’ highlights why time outdoors should be part of every child’s day and includes the full findings from the Outdoor Classroom Day 2017 survey8 – the largest ever survey of teachers on outdoor learning and play. Getting children outdoors more can start with Outdoor Classroom Day. Teachers can register their class – or whole school – on the website to get involved on 1 November. Parents are encouraged to sign up as well to show their support: www.outdoorclassroomday.com

ENDS

1 Edelman for Unilever, 2016.
2, 8 The impact of outdoor learning and playtime at school – and beyond
3, 4, 5 Unpublished findings to be released as part of the Muddy Hands report on 1 November.
6 Louv, 2005; Louv, Dowdell, Gray & Malone 2011; Sobel 2013; Williams, 2017; Ballantyne and Packer, 2008
7 Packer (1999) in Ballantyne and Packer, 2008

For more information contact: Claire Colvine, Global Communications Manager: +44 7931 424 416 or claire@outdoorclassroomday.com

NOTES TO EDITORS:

ABOUT THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM DAY 2017 SURVEY
All teachers that got involved in Outdoor Classroom Day 2017 (just over 20,000) who gave Project Dirt permission (c. 17,000) were invited to respond to two surveys that together make up the Outdoor Classroom Day 2017 Survey. This data was collated between November 2017 and April 2018 and brings together responses from 713 teachers, (93 Australian) on learning outdoors and 629 teachers about outdoor play (91 Australian), from 44 countries.

A selection of findings were published in May in The impact of outdoor learning and playtime at school – and beyond. The full findings and the key literature that supports them are to be released on 1 November 2018 when the report From muddy hands and dirty faces to higher grades and happy places will be published.

ABOUT OUTDOOR CLASSROOM DAY
Outdoor Classroom Day is a global campaign to inspire and celebrate outdoor learning and play. On the day, thousands of schools around the world take lessons outside and prioritise playtime. As well as having fun, they show how important and easy it is to give children more time outdoors. So that schools can participate on a day that fits with their climate and term times, the global campaign has two dates in 2018 — Thursday 17 May and Thursday 1 November. The global Outdoor Classroom Day is led by Project Dirt, in partnership with Unilever as part of their Dirt is Good movement.

ABOUT PROJECT DIRT
Project Dirt aims to resource thousands of grassroots community projects, and to capture and share the stories of those achievements. Its online platform enables successful relationships to be formed between the business and community sectors. Project Dirt’s mission is to create a vibrant and active online community where individuals, communities, companies and local authorities can share knowledge, advice, best practice and access resources.

ABOUT DIRT IS GOOD
Dirt is Good (DiG) is the campaign supported by Unilever’s leading detergent brands including OMO, Persil, Skip and Via, sold in over 78 markets. We believe that by getting dirty, children develop, learn and grow through rich memory-making experiences. These experiences often come in the form of ‘real play’: play that is free, exploratory and sometimes messy, allowing children to enjoy the present and thrive in the future. Our vision is to create a play-friendly world so that all children everywhere can experience play every day. Whether known as OMO, Persil, Skip, Breeze, Ala, Wisk, Surf or Rinso in your part of the world, you can trust we’ll be there with the superior technology needed to help your family remove those tough stains again and again, so you’re able to enjoy those experiences worry-free.

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Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

Thanks for joining the movement we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂 Check out the resources tabs for ideas for the day – and to make learning and play part of every day!

Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!!!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!!!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

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