Richard Luov asked today - Will we be the last generation to think it's normal for children to play in the woods, and to play in unstructured ways? He went on to say that many people have a negative view of what the world will look like in the future, and if we don't have a positive image we will never be able to attain it.
This afternoon's theme was Respecting Nature and Our Environment, and the speakers focused on play, on children in nature and bringing nature into the urban environment.
Around the world, more people now live in cities than in rural areas, so we need to develop a new kind of city - one in which people can connect to nature - especially children.
Richard spoke of the new nature movement, which is being built by people from all walks of life - natural teachers, citizen naturalists, community gardeners, urban farmers, therapeutic landscapers, and outdoor recreationists.
He spoke passionately about the need to reconnect children with nature and a U.S. movement of self-developed Family Nature Clubs. These are informal gatherings of families who meet in the parks to experience and appreciate their local habitat. He sees these kinds of self-replicating groups as building a constituency of parks supporters.
Jane Hewes spoke about the resurgence of interest in the value of play, and defined play as related to but separate from recreation and leisure. Play must be controlled by children. Play takes place in the present moment and can make time stand still.
Susan Herrington spoke about her work in designing children's plays paces and showed some wonderful videos of children at play. She noted that the traditional playground equipment n her studies of child care centres was unused 88% of the time, while children looked for more creative things to do in the playground. The equipment was used as it was intended only about 3%of the time.