THOUSANDS of children and parents will visit Yanchep National Park this month to take part in WA’s first Cubby Town event.
Run by Nature Play WA, the free event on April 30 will see children build a town full of cubby houses for the first time in WA and organisers hope it will become a regular event.
Events manager Nicole McNamara said about 3000 people had registered by mid-April and the numbers continued to rise.
“As the event is being held in a large open space, we do not have a capacity set,” she said.
“We do hope to have a few thousand people throughout the day.
“Cubby Town is designed to introduce children and families to the simple joy of play in the outdoors, and to encourage them to spend more time in nature together.
“As technology like TV, VCR, DVD and, more recently, the internet came along, children have become more sedentary, preferring indoor activities to being outdoors.
“(However) children who play in natural settings are more resistant to stress, have lower incidence of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression, and have a higher measure of self-worth.
“Children who play in natural settings play in more diverse, imaginative and creative ways and show improved language and collaboration skills.”
Miss McNamara said the Nature Play team chose Yanchep to host the first Cubby Town because it “holds a special place in a lot of our hearts”.
“Many parents would have wonderful memories of visiting Yanchep when they were kids,” she said.
“This event is a great opportunity for families to now bring their children to this beautiful national park to make new memories together.
“The park has a huge open space and a wide range of activities, which means there’s something for all ages and abilities, making it a great place for families to engage in nature play, explore Yanchep and learn more about bringing outdoor, unstructured play into their daily lives.
Park manager Julia Coggins said the responsibility of looking after WA’s natural environment was easier to achieve through partnerships with organisations such as Nature Play WA and the City of Wanneroo.
“It’s also a fantastic way to nurture future generations of passionate custodians,” she said.
“For example, we share stories about how all uneaten koala feed is kept to provide sticks to build cubbies, and how when the cubby building is finished, the sticks are turned into mulch to help plants survive the hot summer.”
Miss McNamara said benefits of nature play included increasing positive feelings between children, reducing bullying, fewer symptoms of attention deficit disorder and stronger immune systems.
“Children who play regularly in natural settings are sick less often,” she said.
“Mud, sand, water, leaves, sticks, pine cones and gum nuts can help to stimulate children’s immune system as well as their imagination.
“Children who spend more time outside tend to be more physically active and less likely to be overweight.
“Natural, irregular and challenging spaces help kids learn to recognise, assess and negotiate risk and build confidence and competence.”
Earlier this year, the Wanneroo council agreed to donate almost $5700 for Nature Play WA to hold the event, which is also supported by the Department of Sport and Recreation.
What: Cubby Town
Who: Nature Play WA
Where: Yanchep National Park, 1 Indian Ocean Drive
When: 10am-3pm on Sunday, April 30