Safety coalition urges MPs to confront concerns that stop kids getting out and about

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and Sustrans have joined together to encourage and help children to be outside more, a scheme they call “Free Range Kids”.

Hundreds of professional bodies are calling on Parliament to tackle the culture of fear and frustration that prevents young people from exploring the world around them with knowledge and confidence.

The LASER Alliance, hosted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), is throwing its weight behind the “Free Range Kids” drive – which wants to see future generations of independent young people getting out and about as a result of improved skills and opportunities. To generate debate, the alliance is calling on as many MPs as possible to put their name to Early Day Motion (EDM) 1954.  More than 150 MPs have already signed-up, but the campaign needs at least 50 more to make an impact.

The motion is part of the wider “Free Range Kids” initiative, which is being orchestrated by Sustrans, a charity enabling more people to make their everyday journeys by foot, bike and public transport. Sustrans is also a member of the LASER Alliance.

To reach the 200 target, the alliance is urging its 215 members – and their staff and supporters – to call on their elected representatives to help.  Sustrans’ email tool has made contacting MPs quick and easy.

The ultimate aim is for the Government to help reverse the decline in the proportion of children walking and cycling to school by addressing the safety concerns that prevent children from feeling able to walk, cycle and play outside. The departments for transport, health, environment and education are being urged to work together to encourage local authorities to invest and educate consistently over the next 10 years to create safe and pleasant environments for walking and cycling. This would not only benefit the health of children but also the communities they live in.

Cassius Francis, LASER Alliance co-ordinator, said: “If we’re serious about improving the happiness and health of our children, then we must work with them to develop the knowledge and confidence they need to get out and about. “Our mantra – that life should be as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible – reflects that some degree of risk-taking is an inescapable part of producing well-rounded individuals.”

Dr Jenny McWhirter, RoSPA’s risk education adviser, said: “Without learning to manage risks safely, young people might never be able to fulfil their potential. When this happens on a national scale, it’s a tragedy: not just for them, but for all of us.”

Sustrans’ policy adviser, Eleanor Besley, said: “We believe every child deserves to be ‘free range’. They should experience the freedom from their front door to go exploring, play outdoors, and make their own way to school and beyond.

To get some ideas to help your kids become more ‘free range’, and to add your voice to the ‘Free Range Kids’ pledge, visit Sustrans web page.

Click here to find out more about the LASER Alliance. The alliance includes members of two former safety education projects – CSEC (Child Safety Education Coalition) and LASER (Learning About Safety by Experiencing Risk). Its aim is to lead the way in practical safety education.

Posted by Clare Kersey

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