WHEN Bill Byrne was growing up, climbing trees, making mud pies and generally spending hours on end running around outdoors was common practice.
That's why the Minister for Agriculture, Sport and Recreation and Member for Rockhampton has thrown his full support behind the Queensland Government funded Nature Play Program.
With children now living in a world dominated by technology and obesity and diabetes statistics worsening, Mr Byrne, pictured, said the Nature Play Program passport concept aims to encourage children to pass up technology and get back to nature with the motivation of completing tasks in a "play passport".
The tasks range from riding bikes to playing in the garden.
"The basic aim is to get kids outside doing natural things, get them doing what Australian kids used to do automatically to try and address some of the urbanisation and obesity issues that surround our lifestyles these days," Mr Byrne said.
"This is just part of a program where government has recognised that people are becoming far too couch bound, far too electronic device bound and far less inclined to get out and live their lives and enjoy the great things Queensland has to offer, to get active.
"I grew up in a regional town where there were very few houses around and my recollections are that the sun would come up and my mother would ask me to leave the house and not come back until dark.
"That's pretty much what I did; my mother was a fairly strict parent so I had no problems with disappearing into the bush for a few hours.
"That kind of upbringing, an early 1960s upbringing, is not really available to lots of kids today.
"So this program is government somewhat trying to address that," he said.
Mr Byrne last week met with Nature Play Queensland program manager Hyahno Moser and Belinda Hunter from Guppy's Early Learning Centre Berserker to present the local childcare centre with a Nature Play mud kitchen for their commitment and success to the passport concept.