Around 20 (well maybe 30) years ago, when I was a kid growing up, the summer holidays were a time to look forward to. The sun always seemed to shine, we could play outside on our own all day with friends, riding bikes and building dens in the fields near where we lived. Fun was coming up with imaginary games, creating our own entertainment with things that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, says Toni Tankard of Leeds City Council’s Influencing Travel Behaviour team.
But time moved on, we grew up and became parents ourselves.
Fast forward 20yrs (ok 30yrs), and things are very different. Concerns about keeping our children safe along with the pressures of work, home, and community lives make parenting difficult.
Social media and 24 hour news channels mean that if something bad happens we all know about it pretty quickly. We’re all too aware of how busy the roads are and how fast cars drive along our streets. Keeping our children in is our way of keeping them safe with indoor options such as TV, video games and smartphones.
Yet we want our children to have the fun of ‘playing out’ and getting ‘mucky’ as we did. Unstructured outdoor play such as running, climbing and jumping is critical for improving physical fitness. Additionally these activities help prevent obesity, strengthen the immune system and improve mental health and wellbeing. So what can we do?
It’s important to teach or reinforce your child’s knowledge of road safety in order to keep them safe and to stop ‘us’ as parents becoming nervous wrecks as we begrudgingly let them go out.
Research has shown that children need to understand the reasons for always using good road safety behaviour. The ‘Tales of the Road’ campaign, created by Think!, uses animated characters to show the consequences of not following good road use and demonstrates the correct road safety behaviours. It also has some fun games that the kids can try out.
THINK! also provides road safety information for all road users. The aim is to encourage safer behaviour for everyone in order to reduce the number of people killed and injured on our roads every year.
So, when the sun finally does shine, let’s make this a summer to remember for all the right reasons.