'Cotton wool' era over as kids urged to get physical
I remember playing with toy swords and guns in the school playground when I was a kid.
It was all make-believe and I didn’t grow up to become a knife wielding gun-toting mass murderer.
But in a world where violence is the first ten minutes of the nightly news, perhaps it is better we don’t play with those things at school anymore.
But I also remember more mundane, and I thought completely normal things I would do at school with my friends (male-only friends that is – the girls had "germs" as we used to say at that age).
Things like running, climbing trees, riding skateboards, sliding down the hill. But something happened in recent decades and even those schoolyard activities disappeared.
And so today for the vast majority of schools, there is little or no play equipment.
No asphalt, lots of astro-turf, and any tree that is climbable is taken out of action.
Schools and parents became afraid of accidents. Became afraid of litigation should little Johnny or Claire be involved in a mishap.
Everything was safe. Kids were no longer being kids and were not running around, but sitting around during recess or lunch breaks, playing on devices and generally being inactive.
With childhood obesity rates climbing and boredom setting in, school principals began asking have we gone too far – have we cotton-wool-wrapped our kids too much?
So at a growing number of government and private schools around the country, running is back.
So too climbing trees, making things with crates, old tyres and planks of wood.
Perth principal Neil Smith said at West Greenwood Primary School, staff did have some initial concerns.
"Staff who were potentially a little reluctant at the start around duty of car and injuries have seen the benefits of it," he said.
"(Students) certainly are more resilient, more engaged, better risk takers."
Parents have noticed similar results.
Mum Louise said her daughter had "so much more confidence in herself" and was running, playing and taking risks.
And guess what? There’s been no increase in accidents. Sure kids get the odd scraped knee or bruise, but in all the fun they just dust themselves off and get on with the next adventure.
I’m sure the school fun police had the best intentions, but sometimes we’ve got to remember being a kid and growing up is all about being creative, taking a few knocks and learning a few life experiences.