Sue Palmer puts Natural Play on top of the agenda in Lanarkshire

Lanarkshire’s first ever Natural Play conference is taking place in Hamilton this November.  The event has seen unprecedented demand for places since bookings opened last week, reflecting the huge appetite locally for natural play initiatives.


Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood (Orion 2006), will act as keynote speaker for the FREE conference taking place at Hamilton Park Racecourse, which is open to anyone interested in why, where and how children can play outdoors.

Ewan and Alexis (c) South Lanarkshire Council
Ewan and Alexis (c) South Lanarkshire Council

Organised in collaboration with South Lanarkshire Countryside Rangers and supported by the William Grant Foundation and Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP), attendees will be able to find out what activities have been developed locally, as well as join skill-focussed talks and workshops which can be  booked on the day. Workshops will cover a range of topics including loose-parts play, safe campfires, woodland art and much more.


Karen Dobbins, Development Officer for CAVLP Natural Play focussed projects said: “Whether you are a parent, work with children in schools or nurseries, are a child-minder or a play-worker, the conference will offer a valuable opportunity to network and share ideas.”


She continues: “This conference is just a part of the Natural Play initiatives that CAVLP has been involved in establishing locally. Triple award-winning Natural Play and Picnic Area was created at New Lanark in 2014, we’ve had two jam-packed summers of play activities with newly established OutLET: Play Resource and 16 people have received training in Forest Schools.”


As part of the package, schools in and around the Clyde and Avon Valley can also access teacher training to support outdoor learning on local sites. In partnership with Grounds for Learning, CAVLP are offering FREE places on Teaching in Nature, an accredited course to support teachers in their professional development. The course begins on 24 October 2016 at RSPB Scotland Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell and consists of three practical training days spread out over a year. Local schools can book the last remaining spaces by emailing or calling 01555 663 430.


Lanarkshire based Growing Up Wild Natural Play initiative is just one in a number of national and international initiatives, which recognise and attempt to redress the disconnect between children and nature in contemporary society. A number of reports highlight this growing disaffection, including Natural Childhood, by Stephen Moss (National Trust, 2012), which reveals that fewer than 1 in 10 children regularly play in wild places.


Acting as keynote speaker for the conference, former head teacher and campaigner for literacy, Sue Palmer, is an advocate for the issues surrounding the effects of contemporary childhood on development and learning. Her books, Toxic Childhood, Detoxing Childhood (2007) and 21st Century Boys (2009), led to her involvement in many campaigns related to modern childhood and she is currently a Board Member of Play Scotland.


“We are honoured to have Sue Palmer as keynote speaker for the conference,” says Susan McNeish, South Lanarkshire Countryside Rangers.


She continues, “We’ve found that there’s been a growing appetite for Natural Play initiatives locally and it’s great to have someone like Sue along who helps connect these local activities to the wider, national conversation. We’d urge any interested parties in coming along to sign up.”


Book your FREE ticket or find out more at, or by contacting the CAVLP Team on 01555 663 430, or emailing


*Please note that tickets have been in high demand for this event and there is currently a wait list for available tickets*


Watch the promotional video by searching for ‘Growing Up Wild! Lanarkshire’s First Natural Play Conference’ on


For further information, please contact:

Sarah O’Sullivan, Communications Assistant at Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership 01555 663430 / 07432 465903

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Lanarkshire’s first ever Natural Play conference is taking place in Hamilton this November.  The event has seen unprecedented demand for places since bookings opened last week, reflecting the huge appetite …

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