Research has shown that children spend more time on digital devices than watching television. In response to that, the City of Richmond developed a new park to help them reconnect with nature.
“On average now, children and youths are spending 53 hours per week in ‘e-media’,” said Mark Holder, an associate professor at the UBC Okanagan campus. “The good news is children are watching less TV. The bad news is they’re more than making it up in being connected to other electronic platforms.”
The Terra Nova Adventure Play Environment, developed from children’s input, has a tandem zipline, three-metre high ‘big’ swings, a ‘pivot’ swing, a 10-metre tall treehouse, and a rolling hill. The idea is to help them return to being around nature.
“It’s a way to get away from the common perspective of children being inactive, sitting in front of a computer or other screens for their leisure time, and get them back out into nature, where they can experience nature in a fun way,” said Ted Townsend, senior manager of the city’s corporate communications department.
The city invested $1 million in this new play area, which was built on former farm fields, is located in the Terra Nova Rural Park. The closest school is Spul’u’kwuks Elementary.
Holder also said, “In general, three things that contribute to happiness are social engagement – being with other kids, being with friends, being in nature – being outside, going for a nature walk, and exercise … Being in the park allows you to do all three.”