Kids ditch screens, go bush for the holidays

By Leah Te Whata

In the age of technology a nature-based children's programme is going against the grain, sending students on bush walks rather than leaving them cooped up inside on digital devices.

Kawai Purapura Director Jenny Cottingham says nature-based learning should be available to every child in the country.

A bunch of Auckland kids ditched the screens and gone bush for the holidays.

They shared their highlights with Te Kāea:

"You get to learn about nature and all the living creatures in nature," says one.

Another enjoys "making huts and getting all the sticks that are big and giant and carrying them because they are heavy."

Programme co-ordinator Disha Sanjanwala says, "They love going to the bush so they'll just throw their iPads to the side and say 'ok, let's go!'"

At Little Voices - Kawai Purapura children are encouraged to play to the beat of their own drums.

Disha Sanjanwala says, "We try and let kids play with whatever they want.  There is a structure but we don't want to control it too much."

An eight-year-old participant says, "I love it because we get to craft things and we get to do all the cool stuff we do."

Today's youth spend around seven hours a day on devices and symptoms of screen addiction present similarly to drug addiction.

The programme is an opportunity to detox.

Jenny Cottingham says, "What we've seen since the rise of technology is exponential growth in suicide, anxiety, kids that are on medication, so I think it's absolutely paramount that we need to put energy into ensuring that every child has access to a nature-based programme."