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A new outdoor children's activity area is going to be built at Pensthorpe Wildlife and Gardens.
The new area at the gardens near Fakenham will be called 'WildRoots' and is aimed at trying to improve children's connections with the natural world.
The 7,000 square-metre area will encourage children to play and explore in natural habitats such as woods, fields and streams and once completed will be larger than the Canopy Walk at Kew Gardens and the outdoor play area at Chatsworth House combined.
'WildRootz' will have over 30 individual items of play equipment including hills, tunnels and burrows, an 11m high winding slide tower called 'The Worm', 'The Flyway' zipwire, trees to climb and shallow streams to wade through. The £1million expansion will also include an 'Arty Party Barn' for indoor parties.
Deb Jordan, owner of Pensthorpe said, “It’s been well documented how children today are inclined to stay indoors to play in the virtual world rather than putting on a pair of wellies and playing outside in the natural world. We believe children are becoming quite detached from rural Britain and instead getting hooked into technology, to the point where they don’t know what many species of bird, insect, tree or plant look like.
“Understandably parents do all they can to protect their children from potential danger or allowing them to stray too far when playing outside. However we have concerns that this may have irreversible consequences on children’s sense of freedom and wellbeing.
“At Pensthorpe we see ourselves as custodians of the natural world and in an effort to encourage the next generation to play their part in protecting the environment for the future, we are launching WildRootz as a first step to safely reconnect children with outdoor, green spaces. This is our contribution in encouraging a new generation of Chris Packham’s or David Attenborough’s for tomorrow.”
Along with the new nature play area Pensthorpe is also launching a ‘Passport’ which will guide children and families through ‘WildRootz’ before linking them into the reserve and the remodelled bug walk and stamper trail.
First steps in the development will see the refurbishment of the offices to become a new reception and exhibition centre and increased car parking.
Work started on the development in May and should be finished in July.
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