Around 5 years ago we decided it was time to relocate from St Peters Basin, to Newcastle Great Park. There were several reasons for this, but the primary one was that we had a 1 Year old Imogen. Living by the river was great for a young couple who enjoyed the proximity of everything Newcastle’s Quayside offered, but for a Child in a development on the Banks of the Tyne, built for young professionals, it wasn’t ideal.
Newcastle Great Park
Before we bought our house on Great Park, we visited the local amenities. The development (although still being built) included several parks with a range of play equipment in, as well as lots of open landscaped areas to run around on. It was only when we actually moved here that we realised how important being outdoors and active was for our kids.
Kids seem to like a challenge. If you give them some grass to walk on, they’ll usually plod alongside you bored. If there are other kids with you, it can easily turn into a race! Like wise their imagination is hungry and turns a walk by a wall, into a mountaineering exercise. Which is why I believe that being on an estate with two parks on our doorstep and a further two with in walking distance was the right choice. The activity level of our children increases the nearer to the park we get. Usually resulting in a sprint finish to the swings for first choice. While at the park children are using a variety of muscle groups that a simple walk wouldn’t touch.
Importance of childhood activity
Without becoming all Jamie Oliver on you about diet and food nutrition, it’s easy to park our kids up in front of an iPad or computer to gain some quiet time for us as parents. Taking your kids outside and doing activity can be an effort, but is also some of the most enjoyable times I’ve had with them (this blog hopefully backs this up).
According to the NHS 1 in 5 Reception age kids are overweight, while this figure increases to 1 in 3 at year six. This is one of the reasons the National Child Measurement Program was introduced in schools. It’s not always easy to realise if your child is a healthy weight by comparing to other children in their year group. Schools are also being encouraged to increase physical activity. Brunton First School is about to embark on a 2 week long activity program based around sports and healthy eating.
Schools are also adding more and more outdoor playground equipment across their full academic life.
Early Years Play can include sand pits, road ways, play towers and playground markings.
Primary Years Play can include Trim Trails, Climbing frames and Multi Skills Playground Markings.
Secondary Years Play includes Outdoor Gym equipment, Climbing walls, Parkour and play surfaces.
Being Outdoorsy Parents
January 2015, Catherine and myself decided it was time to get involved with some exercise. She chose the Couch to 5k program, to which I decided, “If she can do it, so Can I!”. This evolved into training for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. We started to get on our bikes and occasionally go on a family ride around the estate. Abigail has only just recently learned how to cycle, but is loving every opportunity to get on her two wheeler. Great Park also offers a wide selection of cycle routes, which connect onto a wider network. One of our recent routes lead us up the to Airport from the Great North Road (3.5km each way) which is not bad for a 5 year old!
Another Great activity that has excited our kids, is Geocaching. Geocaching has turned a “boring” walk into a treasure hunting adventure. Asking the kids to go on a 4 mile walk and they will tolerate it, but tell them there is something to find every 300 metres and they are interested. Plus there is a competition element of who found it first.
We’ve noticed the benefit to our lives, aswell as the kids by becoming more active over the past few years. Activities like Bike riding with the kids can be a nightmare to start with, but the more you do it the more everyone enjoys it. It’s well worth the effort building from the small steps towards fitness.