Each year, I enjoy watching the Australian of the Year Awards, where the achievements and contributions of highly respected Australian citizens from diverse disciplines are recognised.  In most of the categories, I was glad I wasn’t the person making the selection, as I thought each one deserved recognition for his/her contribution to our society. The winners’ speeches are often inspiring and this year was no exception.

As I listened to the speeches of joint recipients Dr Richard Harris and Dr Craig Challen (the cave divers involved in the rescue of the Thai soccer team), my thoughts were “this is something all parents should have a listen to.” (Here is the link to his speech)

Dr Harris told the crowd that he remained “astounded that the pursuit of a hobby for the last 22 years has led to so much interest and acknowledgement and me being up here tonight”.  He described himself as an explorer and how all people have a need for adventure. He urged parents to encourage their children to find their own inner explorer and as parents we need to relax a little and let them do that.
“I do fear for kids today who, living in a risk-averse society, will not learn to challenge themselves and to earn the grazed knees and stubbed toes that really are necessary to build resilience,” he said. 
He said despite the near tragedy that took place in the Thai caves in June, he wanted children to be given the freedom to “test their own limits”. 

He spoke of the world of adventures and opportunities he’d experienced by being an explorer and he confirmed what most of us know – that outdoor activities promote both physical and mental well-being.

He concluded by saying, “I can’t bear to see kids squander any of these opportunities trapped indoors, eyes glued to a screen. Time is short, get amongst it and take your kids with you.”

Next week, I’ll look at some of the points made by Dr Craig Challen in his talk.

Jenny Billingham

(If you have a topic that you’d like more information about and think might interest other parents, please don’t hesitate to email me with suggestions at j.billingham@mueller.qld.edu.au  Thanks.)