An experimental pilot program that aims to encourage kids to do what once came naturally, and go ‘free-range’ around the neighbourhood, has taken place in Queensland.

The program, which took place late last year in two Caboolture estates, Riverbank and Rangeview, encouraged kids to go outside and play with their neighbours, according to an ABC News report.

These days, only eight per cent of kids play outside each day, a trend which the Queensland Government-funded $66,000 pilot program by Nature Play hopes to reverse.

Families within the estates met for the first time, kids walked to each other’s homes and then rode their bikes, and one last get-together involved a “danger” play date led by the kids, where creeks, bushland and even stormwater drains were explored.

Overcoming parents’ fears was one of the biggest challenges, organisers said, so the program also included workshops for parents to help reduce their fears about traffic and child abduction. The findings of the experiment have yet to be released.

Psychologist and lecturer at Sunshine Coast University Dr Rachael Sharman, noted benefits for the executive function of children who spent time outside playing with other kids as well as for sleep, resilience and the development of skills including communication, problem solving and team building.

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Dr Rachael Sharman will be speaking at The Melbourne Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People not-for-profit educational seminar. Find out more about this seminar here>>

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