Nurture through nature

Main Roads WA says the Perth Kids’ Bridge will provide an opportunity for unwell children and their families to increase their health and wellbeing.

The pedestrian bridge is currently in construction over Winthrop Avenue, creating a link between PCH and Kings Park.

Nature Play WA is a non-for-profit organisation that promotes and supports unstructured play outside for children to improve their mental and physical health.

The proposed benefits of the Perth Kids’ Bridge. Infographic: Kate Geldart.

Nature Play chief executive Griffin Longley outlines how physical activity and being outside can have a positive impact on stress level.

“The first thing is when kids are outdoors, they’re more active. If we want kids to be more active and have more physical activity, the first step is to get them outside, but it’s actually at a far deeper level than that,” he says.

“There’s a natural calming effect of being outside, that has an immediate impact on children’s mental health.”

Mr Longley says a number of research studies have highlighted the role of a connection to nature in helping hospital patients in their recovery.

“There have been some really interesting studies done, with the most famous one from 1984 by a researcher called Ulrich, he studied the recovery of patients in hospitals who had views from their beds of green space and compared it to those that didn’t.”

Nature Play WA chief executive Griffin Longley highlights the importance of children being in nature. Audio: Kate Geldart.

PCH registered nurse Shaeley Tedder says patients will receive a number of health and mental health benefits once they are able to access the bridge.

“In the hospital you can’t open windows and you don’t always get much fresh air, so to have that access to King’s Park is very valuable, especially for the kids that aren’t critically ill, so they still have some time to play,” she says.

“Having fresh air is so beneficial and being able to get out in the sunshine and receiving Vitamin D, it makes you happier.”

People using facilities at the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre describing their thoughts on the Perth Kids’ Bridge. Video: Kate Geldart.

Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation chief executive Carrick Robinson outlines how far the project has come since its beginnings.

“As the funders of this project, we’re delighted that the final pieces of the Kids’ Bridge are now in place,” he says.

“After working for a decade to see this project come to life, it’s rewarding to see this dream turn into a reality.

“We know that being close to nature plays an important part in the healing process. The Kids’ Bridge will give sick children and their families the opportunity to escape the rigours of their hospital journey and benefit from the healing nature of Kings Park.”