MORE than 100 pupils will be introduced to a city centre park this week to encourage them to spend more time outdoors.
The National Trust, which was set up in 1895 in order to save green spaces amid British industrialisation, will join Newcastle City Council, Northumbria University, the Friends of Leazes Park in the city and the Time Bandits history group to host the events in Newcastle’s first public park.
Children from three schools within walking distance of Leazes Park will take part in outdoor activity days to build dens, plant an orchard, Victorian games and get involved in dance, drama and story telling workshops.
On Saturday National Trust and Newcastle park rangers will host a public day of free activities in the park. Nikki Crowley, project manager for the National Trust said: “The project is about providing opportunities for people who live in urban areas to get outdoors and enjoy spending time in their local park.
“It’s a great way for the National Trust and our partners to showcase some of the experiences you can have outdoors and to promote the benefits of spending time in the natural environment, whether in city centre parks or the wider countryside.
“We hope our event will nurture everyone’s love of the outdoors, encouraging local people to make the most of Leazes Park and introducing people who don’t know about the National Trust to what we do in the outdoors.”
Jim Clark, head of education studies at Northumbria University, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to this wider community project that provides an outdoor learning experience not only for our student teachers, but for the young people involved.
“It is important that young people and their families, living in urban areas, are supported and encouraged to recognise and appreciate urban green space and the opportunities and benefits that they provide.”
The Saturday event from 11am to 3pm offers the chance to take part in outdoor activities outlined in the trust’s 50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾ campaign.
New research for the National Trust has found that watching television and DVDs is now the most common way for parents and children to spend time together.
But 26% of children aged 8-11 years old and 49% of parents surveyed said they would like to spend more time together by going for a walk.
Over the half-term there will be family walking opportunities at National Trust properties in the North East as part of the Great British Walk (www.nationaltrust.org.ik/walking northeast ) which has been organised in partnership with PruHealth.
These include a Ramble with a Ranger at Gibside on October 28, a Great Geocache Treasure Trail at Souter Lighthouse and a Forest Frights walk at Wallington, both on October 30.
Jo Foster, outdoors consultant for the National Trust in the North East, said: “Despite the fact that TV seems to be dominating family life its really encouraging that children and parents want to spend more time together and that walking is seen a great way of doing that.”