There is growing concern that children are becoming weaker and unable to do physical exercises such as sit-ups as they overindulge in toy tablets and play stations.
Nathalie Maikere, one of the owners of Aerial Adventure Park in Nairobi is now trying to encourage parents with children aged four to 10 years to get them outdoors for fun and a little bit of adrenaline rush.
Together with Fredrick Stauffer, they have opened an adventure park on the rooftop of Yaya Centre which has a high rope course filled with bridges, ropes and zip lines that make up eight obstacles, each targeted at boosting a child’s balance and survival skills.
“The course is raised 1.5 metres off the ground and helps address height-fright in children while boosting their motor skills,” Nathalie said.
Prior to going up a wooden ladder located at one corner of the rectangular course, the children are instructed on how to operate on it.
This is after they wear their helmets, harnesses and are in closed-shoes, ready to take on the safety zip lines (also known as lifelines) that run along the course.
As they take on the course, an instructor is in tow to ensure their security and to encourage them to push harder till the end.
“The main idea is to work on the core of the body which in turn helps improve motor skills thus build confidence in the children and encourage proper posture,” said Nathalie.
Aside from boosting the physical wellbeing of the child, the climbing expedition teaches the children patience and respect.
The high ropes challenge is slow and the children require to patiently plot their smartest move. The path/course can accommodate a maximum of 15 children at a time and since there is no overtaking or overlapping, the children behind have to move in the pace of those in front. They also have to talk with the other participants.
The challenge is for a child to focus and find a balance on the various platforms, bridges of rope, wood and wire, since everything is either moving or wobbling.
Make it a jungle
This activity is good for children as their small hands and feet allow them to hold onto the thin ropes that adults cannot.
Fredrick says safety on the course is guaranteed. They imported most of the materials from Switzerland.
“We opted for a supplier who has proven capabilities in the setting up of adventure parks. This particular one [supplier] helped set up similar adventure parks in Canada, South Africa and Argentina,” said Fredrick.
He said his 11-year-old son nudged him to set up the adventure part. The son kept wondering why Kenya had no kids’ high ropes adventure park.
Two laps on the course cost Sh400, a rate Fredrick says is friendly and meant to encourage parents to drop their children at the park as they shop at the mall undisturbed.
“There is a special rate for such parents. We require them to leave behind their phone numbers and ID numbers for safety purposes and just in case the child requires them back sooner,” he said.
The immediate plan at the park that unveiled last December is to incorporate plants which will make the children feel like they are trekking in a jungle.