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Children who engage in just one third more outdoor activities than their peers grow up to be happier

Photo: Deb with The McClymonts

Today I had a look at Planet Ark’s Nature Playground in Circular Quay, which highlights nature's lifelong health and happiness benefits. I love being amongst anything that is green and being an avid gardener and lover of nature, I was excited to go and have a look. Today was a rather special treat for me too, because I got to meet The McClymonts, who I have seen in concert and love their energy, music, and passion for life who were there supporting Planet Ark.

Today, Planet Ark and sponsor, Toyota Australia constructed a nature playground on the forecourt of Customs House at Circular Quay complete with swing set, cubbyhouse and giant games to encourage people to spend time outside in natural settings. An edible vertical garden from Woolly Pockets, designed as a smiley face, provided the perfect backdrop to welcome passers-by and be donated to OzHarvest at the end of the event.

The reason behind this event is because an independent survey commissioned by Planet Ark found that children who engage in just one third more outdoor activities than their peers grow up to be happier adults. The survey results were released today in Planet Ark’s Needing Trees – The Nature of Happiness report, sponsored by Toyota, in the lead up to National Tree Day at the end of July.

The report investigates how contact with nature affects people’s life-long happiness and the physiological impacts it has on the brain. The surveys included in the report used internationally- recognised scales to measure the connection to nature and happiness of participants. I can relate to this, because my medicine for when I’m stressed or not my happiest is to head straight amongst trees and plants, and I instantly feel myself relaxing.

Statistics show only one in ten children today play outdoors more often than indoors, compared to three out of four adults when they were young. My most fond memories as a child are when we played in the gardens, climbing hedges and trees. Over the space of a single generation Australians have disconnected from nature, while at the same time there has been a rapid increase in levels of stress and depression, with depression-associated disability costing the Australian economy $14.9 billion a year.

It was a great morning with lots of plant giveaways, and I brought a new baby plant home with me too.

*Needing Trees –The Nature of Happiness report is based on an independent survey commissioned by Planet Ark, and sponsored by Toyota Australia, in March 2015. It was conducted by Pollinate, a specialist communications research company, to investigate how contact with nature makes people happy across all life stages. It discusses the long-term implications for today’s children that reduced contact with nature during childhood can have on future happiness and wellbeing. The report also reviews Australian and international studies that examine the influence of nature on a person’s emotional wellbeing and the short and long-term physiological changes this causes to the brain. To view the full report, key findings and previous Planet Ark research:

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