When I was a kid a Chomp cost 10p
I’m not quite sure how I follow those amazing blogs from my colleagues, but I will have a go. When I reminisce on my childhood I often remember my journeys to and from school. To be honest, it was often the best part of the school day (apart from the epic playground football games at break and lunchtime of course).
Anyway, I was allowed to walk to and from school from the age of seven (with a mate at first), and the journey was done on foot, and later on, by bmx, and was no more than a mile or so. Now, I wouldn’t say that I was a naughty schoolboy (well not all the time anyway!), but I was certainly one for pushing my social and physical boundaries. Maybe this is why I still have such a healthy appetite for experiencing and talking about risk.
When I started jotting down a list of things I used to do on the way to and from school, more and more funny memories started jumping out of my brain onto the pad. In the interest of keeping this to a blog length piece, as opposed to full biography of my childhood, I have decided to list my top ten in a sort of ‘risk continuum’, starting with the more tame memories, and finishing with ones that may, quite frankly, make some parents break out in a cold sweat!
So here goes…
- Scrabbling together our remaining pennies to buy some classic penny sweets (white mice, flying saucers, shrimps, cola bottles, and those white chocolate buttons covered in hundreds and thousands – can anyone remember what they were called?)
- Jumping in EVERY single puddle we saw on the way home, and the pure satisfaction of totally saturating my friends school uniform
- Dribbling a football all the way to school without it touching anything other than the path
- Playing ‘knock down ginger’ and once very nearly getting caught by a very angry man!
- Climbing trees – any tree will do as long as you can get to the first branch!
- Taking a run up and sliding as far as possible on an icy path (even better with smooth bottomed school shoes)
- Walking over the lock gates (yes gates, not bridge…although I never had the guts to cycle across it)
- Hopping the whole way across the lock gates
- Running full speed to the middle of the lock gates, and jumping from the middle, right to the other side of the canal (how??)
- Hanging by my fingertips from the canal bridge (only maybe 6 feet from the water), and ‘walking’ from one side to the other
As far as I am concerned, you can’t put a price on these experiences. They simply would not have happened if I went and sat in a car in a traffic jam twice a day for those eight years of my school life. They are part of what makes me the man I am today, and I can’t thank my parents enough for having the sense to allow me this freedom in my daily life (not just to and from school).
I call on anyone reading this blog to do something (many things if you like) to help kids have the same freedom I had to Love Outdoor Play! (Disclaimer: everyone has different levels of ability and confidence – the ten examples above are experiences I enjoyed…not necessarily ones I would encourage any child to engage in – they will make those decisions themselves).
Ashley Rogers is Senior Development Officer at Play England. To mark the launch of the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) research on independent mobility, Play England staff will be sharing their personal stories and thoughts on the subject throughout the week on this blog, we hope you enjoy them.