Bush kindy helps Murray Bridge children reconnect with nature

"Nature deficit disorder" is a fancy way of saying our children don't get out as much as they did a generation ago.

Murray Bridge childcare centre Kin Kin Early Education is resisting it, in collaboration with Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin and the Eastern Hills and Murray Plains Catchment Group.

Ben McCallum followed children around Murray Park last Friday, identifying mini-beasts and showing them how to protect saplings from rabbits by building a little fence of sticks.

"The idea is to get them in touch with nature again, using all of their senses instead of looking at a screen," he said.

"I find it ironic we're making all these nature play spaces when we have beautiful places like this."

Kin Kin manager Hayley Handler said the bush kindy program was an attempt to give children the experiences their parents had had: climbing trees, feeling the dirt.

"You never remember your first TV, but you remember the first tree your brother pushed you out of,” she said.

NRM educator Dani Dutschke said a connection to nature was easier to develop in childhood than as an adult.

"It might not look like much, but (if) they're outside playing with sticks and trees, later in life they'll want to protect those sticks and trees," she said.

She even suggested children were more likely to break their arms when they started school simply because their motor skills were under-developed.

The children's weekly visits began a fortnight ago; eventually they might go several times a week.

Murray Park, an area of remnant bushland which contains a pioneer cemetery, is located on Thomas Street, Murray Bridge.

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