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States to follow WA outdoors
The West Australian

The Queensland and South Australian governments will adopt a groundbreaking program aimed at getting children off the couch and into nature after its success in WA.

Nature Play WA was launched in 2010 to encourage children to get outside and experience unstructured play away from computers and televisions.

About 125,000 children - more than half of all primary school students in WA - have since signed up to the Nature Play Passport program, which sets outdoor tasks to complete.

The South Australian Government will this week launch its own initiative and Queensland's program is expected to be up and running in weeks.

Nature Play SA interim chairman Allan Holmes said the WA initiative was being used as a model for other States because it was well regarded.

"There is a worldwide interest in what is referred to as a nature deficiency syndrome where kids are losing touch with the natural world," he said.

Nature Play WA will share its information and branding with the new organisations, allowing them to support each other and build the movement together.

The role of the organisations will be to spread the nature play message and increase access to resources and programs.

Nature Play WA chief executive Griffin Longley said one of the big challenges they were facing was changing people's views of "good parenting".

"People now have these long lists of what they think they need to do for their kids and that involves tap classes, learning Mandarin and sports," he said.

"They need to recognise that one of the best things they can do is just to let their kid play."

A study by University of WA School of Population Health assistant professor Karen Martin in 2011 found contact with nature benefited the health, learning and development of children.

According to the research, nature play could potentially improve things such as motor skills, personality development, attitude and mental health.

Dr Martin said Nature Play was a forward-thinking initiative that could have a huge positive impact on the health and wellbeing of children.