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Experiencing nature actively during childhood essential for growing into healthy adults.

Just twenty years ago, most children and teenagers were still walking to school every day, also spending the bulk of their pastime playing outdoors. However, things have changed dramatically within one generation: TV, computers, game consoles, smartphones and legions of electronic media now provide what youngsters consider as genuine entertainment. Moreover, society, these days forced to focus more and more on Health and Safety issues, inadvertently promotes keeping children indoors, favouring, if any, regimented "safe" physical activities over imaginative play. Parental fears, together with the decline in natural areas and the lure of the screen result in many children never having the opportunity to explore and experience nature.

Richard Louv, US-based journalist and writer, has even coined a medical term for the chronic lack of contact with nature and environment in today's children: nature deficit disorder. "It's a problem because kids who don't get nature-time seem more prone to anxiety depression and attention deficit problems," states Louv. A connection that also seems to be increasingly supported by a number of recent clinical studies.

Bringing children back in contact with nature at an early age is one of the core objectives of the operators of AvaTarZ Nature Park who are currently extending their ECO climbing forest at their venue in Oldenzaal which also features nature trails, various sport facilities, as well as magic and mythology themed tours. "Combining outdoor time with physical activity, providing kids with a modest challenge, intensifies the nature experience and creates a lasting awareness of nature and environment," says Wim Doedens, the owner of AvaTarZ Nature Park.

The park extension is specifically aimed at a young audience, particularly children aged 8 to 10, and involves supplementing and adapting the climbing forest for adults already existing onsite in a child-friendly way. "Adding a course layout for kids increases the number of courses to eight, with the facilities now comprising a total of more than 110 individual obstacles," explains Doedens. "This means we are now operating the largest climbing forest in the Netherlands."

When it comes to climbing safety, AvaTarZ utilises the latest safety technology. "We won't compromise on climbing safety," adds Doedens. "Especially when it involves children. Needless to say that we understand perfectly well that children at that age cannot and must not be expected to look after their own safety. This is where the Saferoller system comes in."

"We want to give kids the opportunity to fully enjoy themselves by alleviating any concern about their safety when tackling a given course," explains Ewout Van Voorst, Managing Director of Skywalker, the Dutch specialist company contracted by AvaTarZ to build the park extension. "In this respect, the Saferoller permanent lifeline system is state-of-the-art, complies with the highest safety standards and makes sure that the youngsters are 100 percent safe at all times. Moreover, the Saferoller also allows individuals, such as visually impaired visitors who were previously excluded from certain climbing activities , to have as much fun as everyone else."

The system consists of a trolley specifically designed for the transition between the individual climbing activities on each course without the necessity to detach the trolley from the main safety line. "As far as we know, Saferoller is currently the only safety equipment that provides continuous fall protection over the entire length of any combination of courses," Van Voorst adds.

About AvaTarZ Nature Park

The Deuringen-based AvaTarZ Nature Park is an outdoor leisure centre with climbing facilities for visitors of all age groups. AvaTarZ's climbing forest is the Netherland's largest outdoor climbing venue, also includes the Netherlands' longest flying fox covering a distance of about 200 yards, and features amongst a whole range of other fun activities a labyrinth of narrow paths, turns and corners for any youngster looking for a stint of adventure.

About Skywalker Adventure Builders

Creating extraordinary High-Rope Adventures: Skywalker develops up-market concepts for Family Entertainment Centers (FEC) and Outdoor activity sites and manufactures ECO forest high-wire parks, high ropes courses, adventure towers, outdoor playgrounds and adventure parks. Experience, innovative design, high quality, and the safety and durability of their products earmark Skywalker as one of the leading manufacturers of adventurous leisure facilities in Europe. The unique services portfolio, combined with ERCA (European Ropes Course Association) certified training programs, enables customers to run a safe and profitable operation with a fast ROI.