After last night’s launch event at the Royal Festival Hall, Gareth Price, Head of Development, reflects on some of the benefits of turning London into a National Park City, especially for the capital’s young people.

Young people exuberantly splatter mud against a wall…

A poet leads a crowd pleasing ode to being outside…

An economist chuckles at the idea that a frozen planet light years away might offer us a better home…

Some school children show off their bee keeping skills…

A guerrilla geographer bounds around the stage like a bearded Peter Snow enthusing about a giant map with London’s natural spaces coloured in green and blue and purple and pink…

And a community activitist reveals the disturbing stat that three quarters of children now spend less time outdoors than prison inmates…

So what do they, the audience that assembled at the Royal Festival Hall last night, and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, all have in commom?

They all want to turn London into the first National Park City.

So, what if London was a National Park City?

We’d plant more trees, reduce air pollution and make the air sweeter to breath.

We’d clean up the Thames and the other 850 kilometres of streams, rivers and canals of our metropolis so people could do more swimming and sailing, and rowing and mudlarking. (That’s looking for historical artefacts on the Thames foreshore seeing you asked!)

We’d improve the capital’s way of life so people loved living here even more.

We’d encourage businesses to invest here and establish London as an exemplar for National Park Cities across the world.

But most of all, and this is why London Youth are backing the initiative, it would help us work towards reconnecting 100% of the capital’s young people with the natural environment, encouraging them to get outdoors more, with all the physical, emotional, health and well-being benefits that is proven to bring. We’d start to reverse the worrying rise in childhood obesity, improve young people’s mental health; we’d address the poor air quality that spikes in areas of economic deprivation; and we’d encourage young people to develop their own outdoor community projects and connect with other local people while they do it.

And, as the economist suggested last night, we’d almost certainly smile more!