Most adults who grew up in the 1960s to 1980s reminisce about a time when they could run free on the streets, commons, parks and woodlands near their homes, seemingly without the threats that children today face. Of course, this rose-tinted view of our youth is not entirely accurate and I'm sure our parents sprouted a fair few grey hairs when we were not where we were expected to be. But on the whole, we do seem to have had at least the illusion of more freedom.
The whys and wherefores of how and why is open to debate, and personally I suspect the higher proportion of stay at home mums all keeping an eye on the neighbourhood kids had a lot to do with it. But whatever the reasons, outdoor and free play nowadays appears to be under threat from so many angles, what with parents protecting their children from the outside world, schools saying no to virtually everything, and the health and safety apparatchiks wading in at every opportunity. But surely we can't be resigned solely to a future of two hours a week in safe, padded indoor play zones?
But it is important to remember that fearless play is essential in developing confidence and stronger social and risk-taking skills, let alone the intrinsic benefits of free play and physical activity. To this end Cheestrings have set up their Brave Bones Club that all kids can be part of. Children can participate at various levels, from simply buying Cheestrings which help to develop strong bones, to signing up online at www.bravebonesclub.com and taking part in the Brave Bones Badge challenges.
There are currently 12 badges to go for, from simple indoor fun like arm wrestling and balloon bursting (with your bottom!), to bath snorkelling or camping out under a full moon. Once each challenge is completed, brave Club members need to describe their experience which will earn them a badge and a certificate of bravery, which can be proudly framed at home.
We have been sent a kit to help us get started on the Brave Bones Challenges, including water bombs for the 'pass the water bomb' challenge, a pair of socks for the 'pongy sock press-up' challenge, and - most scarily! - a lipstick for the ‘kiss a toad’ challenge. (Does my husband count? ;-))
So, how brave are you and your little ones?
Do you dare to kiss a toad?
Could you be a blindfold goalie?
What about letting them jump over a prostrate you in the Jump a Grown-Up Badge?