Children who regularly play in natural settings are sick less often and have more opportunities to develop their co-ordination and motor skills, according to research from the University of Western Australia and not-for-profit organisation, Nature Play WA.
Health Minister Kim Hames said the same principles applied for patients.
Dr Hames said the ability to interact with nature was proven to be a key element of recovery and was therefore incorporated into the design of new facilities at Fiona Stanley Hospital, St John of God Midland Public Hospital and Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH).
“Play spaces at PCH provide areas of rest and retreat other than the hospital bed and will offer patients and their families a distraction from the clinical environment,” he said.
“The main level-four playground will provide tactile play experiences for children with custom-made equipment and an unstructured layout, as well as a dedicated space for working with therapists trained in rehabilitation.”
Dr Hames said the recreational and play facilities at the hospital had been designed for children and their families, consistent with Nature Play principles.
Planning Minister John Day said the Nature Play tick of approval was important to ensure research and new thinking was incorporated into the planning and design of new playgrounds.
“The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority has worked with designers to create and develop an interactive and learning-oriented play space at Elizabeth Quay,” Mr Day said. “The nautical-inspired playground will give children an opportunity to explore Western Australia’s rich maritime history through imaginative and active play.
“The design team has developed a concept that integrates Nature Play and adventure with a maritime twist. It’s more than just a playground, it’s a way of encouraging kids to get involved with nature - finding a balance between getting your hands dirty and reducing screen time.”