On Saturday, May 13th, 2017 the royal family threw a huge party for children who had lost a parent in the line of duty. This party was a way to show these innocent souls that they are not forgotten rather appreciated for their sacrifices and painful moments. It was a fun filled day that lit up the garden in Buckingham Palace.

The Invite and welcome

The invites to the party were sent a month earlier from the three royals, Kate Middleton, Prince William and Prince Harry. Prince Harry with his fun side stated that they should not dress up regardless of the venue of the party. They could wear anything they wanted. Funny enough, he dared them to do that. Furthermore, this was a fun day that had different activities that many children would enjoy. The guards at the palace welcomed the children with the song, let it go’. A favourite song from Disney film, Frozen.

The beneficiaries of the party

Among the attendee was a young six-year-old, Jack Rigby, son of Fusilier Lee Rigby who was murdered by a violent extremist group outside the Royal Artillery Barracks, south London in 2013. His mother appreciated the efforts from the Royals. She said it was a good way to show their support and that Jack and the other children were never forgotten. She also added that the event was an excellent platform for all the children to interact and share what they went through during those sad and painful moments.

The activities

The entertainers of the day were Nina Conti, a ventriloquist famous for the puppets named granny and a monkey named Monk, singer, Jess Glynne and the winner of Britain’s Got Talent, Lance Corporal. These three gave out their best performance that made the children forget their painful past for a moment.

The Duchess was not left behind as she stepped in with some excitement and launched a water balloon. Prince Harry played with George Hinchcliffe at plate spinning’. George was the son of Captain Richard Hinchcliffe who was a Royal Armoured Medical Corps. He was shot while in civilian clothes in 2015. According to one of the parents at the party, the direction that the Royals are taking is bright with a good future.

A sense of empathy

Prince William and Harry have both served in the military, and lost a parent at a young age, so in many ways they understand the issues these children are facing. The major difference is that they are Royals, but on this day that barrier was broken, and many children were happy. Prince Harry noted that the Palace had never seen so many visitors in the recent past and it was an honour to have them.

Later on, there was a performance form the RAF Falcons who launched some of their parachutes and made many delighted for attending the event. The event was successful in the end. These types of occasions are a good example of what is in store if a Nation is together in fostering unity and love. The military men and women are the most priceless asset a country can ever have, therefore; taking care of loved ones should be every state’s priority.

The Parks & Recreation department in Denver, Colorado are looking to the natural environment as they seek to replace and rejuvenate a number of dated playgrounds in the city. Natural playgrounds, constructed from recycled trees and boulders have become a very popular option in replacing traditional playgrounds that are made up of metallic slides, swings and monkey bars.

According to recent studies, children generally get bored quickly when they are taken to a typical old fashioned playground set-up. But when children visit playgrounds that embrace the surrounding natural environment, children tend to stay for a longer period of time and return more frequently.

At Pasquinel’s Landing Park in Denver, construction of the first nature playground us already underway. The playground has been designed by Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, who are a reputable Canadian company known for building world-class playgrounds all over the globe. The company also has two other ongoing projects in Westwood Park and First Creek near Denver international airport. These projects are due for completion this year.

Adam Bienenstock, the Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds Founder and CEO, who also happens to hold the position of Principal Designer, was at the Pasquinel’s Landing park in order to observe and supervise the construction of the nature park. The play items are made mostly from tree wood taken from local parks and from a friendly neighbour’s front yard.

Mr Bienenstock said that “the most important part of this is we just want kids to connect to nature in a way that I remember when I was a kid, but we know is missing from most of their lives now”. Mr Bienenstock also said the natural playgrounds are one of the few places where children can have this experience.

This popularity of these ‘green’ playgrounds has extended beyond the shores of Pasquinel’s landing park. Other cities in Denver have also started to see the benefits of installing natural playgrounds. Broomfield and Westminster have set up plans in place for projects and Littleton already has a natural play area along the Mary Carter Greenway.

Emily Patterson, the parks for people program manager for the Trust of Public Land, believes that the natural look of the parks speaks to the youth in ways that could never be imagined, connecting their minds to the world of nature, and prompting them to explore more of the terrain.

Jackie Miller, the director of youth initiatives for Great Outdoors Colorado, believes that even though the trend of natural parks will continue to grow at a rapid rate, people should not rule out traditional parks just yet. She commented that “We see a lot of playground projects and the trend is definitely shifting towards more natural play. There will always be a place for traditional equipment, but there is a growing interest in bringing nature close to home”.

Bienenstock believes the natural setting ushers in a lot of advantages, like encouraging independence and social skill development for children. The playgrounds can also help to boost children’s creativity in a way that traditional playground set-ups have been unable to.

Denver has made an innovative move, and we can only hope that cities around the world will follow in their footsteps. It’s time to encourage our children to enjoy their natural surroundings and connect with nature once more.

Most parents want their children to grow up in a healthy and active environment, playing outdoor games, rolling in the grass with their friends, and learning to be a part of the natural surroundings. According to a survey conducted by the National Trust, nine out of ten parents would like their children to have a close connection with nature and spend more of their time outside.

Shockingly, the research also suggested that modern children spend half of the amount of time playing outdoors that their parents did. An average child spends only four hours per week outside, which is 50% less if you compare it to their parents. The adults who were spent about 8.2 hours a week on average playing outdoors when they were children.

Technology versus nature

Technological development may be a reason why children are increasingly spending their time indoors. 83% of the parents who were questioned agreed that it was important that their children learned to properly use technology. However, a further 96% of the adults questioned were sure that playing outside was even more important for the development of their children. The participants of the survey included 1,001 parents with children between four and fourteen.

The National Trust children activity campaign

The National Trust is a charity involved in the preservation of cultural heritage and the natural environment by providing it with public access. The Trust created a list of ‘50 things to do before you’re 11 and three-quarters’ in order to promote an active lifestyle among younger children. It consists of a list of fifty challenges that a child has to tick as completed by the age of eleven and three quarters.

Among the must-do activities, there are activities such as climbing a tree, playing pooh sticks, building a den, going stargazing, hunting for bugs and many other imaginative outdoor games that have been created to get children excited about outdoor play.

Raleigh Ritchie becomes a campaigner

The famous Game of Thrones actor and talented musician, Raleigh Ritchie, recently joined the National Trust campaign. Ritchie has written a rap and made a short video about the exciting activities that children can do outside.

Ritchie used the example of a simple wooden stick that might be a drumstick, a microphone, a broom, a magic wand, an archery bow or even a dragon bone. The purpose of the song and the video was to inspire children to use the simple items that surround them and use their imagination to create endless possibilities for games.

A summer of adventures

As the summer season approaches, the National Trust have set a goal to inspire children and their families to go outdoors, explore and discover new places. On its website, the organisation prepared a list of places with detailed information and recommendations of places to visit for family adventures. The list includes historical estates, gardens, islands, abandoned mines and many different kinds of hidden treasures throughout the UK.

Despite the results of the survey, children are curious and imaginative by nature, and with the continued help of adults, it is possible to bring the traditional outdoors-focused childhood back into the modern world.