Happy memories of childhood in village inspire app for outdoors

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Memories of visiting rural Bedfordshire have inspired a new app encouraging children to play outdoors.

Hannah Catmur spent many happy childhood hours in her grandparent’s garden in Harrold, which motivated her to create the Get Out! Explorers app.

The project began when Hannah was a student and set a task by her university lecturers.

She said: “We had to come up with ideas to solve the problem of kids becoming too reliant on technology and getting grumpy when you take their tablets and computers away.

“I looked at what was trending, what children like, things like badges and league tables but also outdoors things, such as geocaching and fossils. I merged these things together as the basis for the Get Out! Explorers app.”

The app can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet and uses the very technology that is blamed for children spending too much time on the sofa.

It offers them challenges ranging from finding and drawing insects to building a herb garden, or going fishing.

Through the app, children can download missions and maps and also track their own adventures to challenge friends. As they complete missions, users can unlock new content and, of course, see their place on the leaderboard.

Hannah said: “My lecturers said it wouldn’t work as children don’t know how to use iPads, but how wrong they were. By gamifying the world on their doorsteps, we’ll get kids outside again.”

Hannah demonstrated the project at several family fun events last summer and has the backing of The Department for Rural Affairs and charities such as the RSPB and The National Trust.

She is now recruiting children and parents to test the app before it is officially launched at Easter. The trial will begin at the end of February and she needs about 100 more volunteers to reach her target of 500 testers. For more information go to www.getoutexplorers.com or follow @GetOutExplorers