It seems the Twizel District Council is considering fencing off an area of structures traditionally used for interactive play. Here’s our take on this disturbing trend:
As exercise physiologists with well over a quarter of a century experience working at the top of the international health and fitness industry, may we say we are at a time in human development where we are creating dire future consequences from “constructive inactivity” being imposed from the Health&Safety and Compliance industries. Our children (and adults, come to that) are being deliberately deprived of opportunities to develop physically in a normal way. We have seen this in some parts of the USA where footpaths have been engineered out of the environment, encouraging “car only” access to residential and town centre throughfares. The basic and primal movement patterns we learn from jumping, climbing, pushing, dragging, leaping, bounding, landing, falling (yes ladies and gentlemen, falling) all serve to develop our muscle firing patterns, proprioception skills, co-ordination, neural pathways, bone development and strength, and sense of participation and engagement in the real world (and hence our sense of wellbeing and robust mental health). Any move to deprive humans from these activities – especially under a thinly-veiled nonsense of “Health and Safety” compliance – is contrary to the healthy development and maintenance of functional independance as we age. We would further go as far as to say that the act of fencing (or removing) these important play structures (including trees, rocks, mounds, etc) from general access is an action AGAINST the health and wellbeing at all levels of our residents and visitors. When public authorities have a mandate to provide recreational areas for its residents, and a duty of care for their physical and mental wellbeing, we would urge them to carefully weigh up the damage they may be creating in the long term, for the sake of placing a tick in a box that someone made up when they should have been working on something that was actually important.