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It's time to play out

23 August 2016

Creating a movement for natural play and learning in urban Liverpool and beyond.

On two windy days in February something unusual happened at St Vincent De Paul Catholic Primary School in the centre of Liverpool. Almost overnight, 200 trees appeared in the school grounds. The inner city school had got its own piece of forest.


The school, tucked between the bars of the Ropewalks and the hipster creative businesses of the Baltic Triangle is about as urban as it gets. So it's a pretty big deal when a crowd of parents, children and staff give up their time to plant a woodland, bringing nature into the school environment.

The marathon planting sessions were just one small part of a project by The Mersey Forest, funded by Smurfit Kappa Foundation and the Ernest Cook Trust which is aiming to embed a culture of natural play and learning in Merseyside schools. It's in response to studies like that done by the National Trust in 2014 which found that most children play outside for less than an hour a day, and the public health implications of inactive children turning into obese sedentary adults. With experts now claiming 'sitting is the new smoking', restoring active play outdoors is becoming urgent.


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