PEOPLE in Helensburgh are being invited to celebrate World Wildlife Day at a family event in Balloch Castle Country Park this weekend.

Operation Play Outdoors is hosting the event on Sunday, March 1 from 12 noon until 4pm.

The event is free to attend and open to everyone.

The afternoon will feature a wide range of wildlife themed activities, while several environmental organisations will also be taking part to highlight some of the important work going on in the area around Loch Lomond to support biodiversity and local wildlife.

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This event is funded and delivered in partnership with Scottish Forestry, and will be Operation Play Outdoors’ second celebration of World Wildlife Day, following a highly successful event at Greenbank Garden in East Renfrewshire two years ago.

Activities on the day will include face painting, treasure hunts, storytelling, a campfire, arts and crafts, outdoor play, birds of prey and lots more free activities for people to take part in.

Families can even bring along their own picnic and make a full day out of the event.

The closest entrance to the event space is on Mollanbowie Road in Balloch.

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Operation Play Outdoors was founded in 2015 with the aim of promoting the benefits of playing together in the outdoors in the face of the growing influence of solitary pursuits on computers, tablets and games consoles and the resulting impact on children’s physical and mental health.

Founder Craig Thomson said: “Operation Play Outdoors was created to challenge barriers to play and increase play opportunities throughout the central belt of Scotland and further afield.

“We are noticing a sharp rise in obesity and mental health issues across all ages and generally a much less active younger generation.

“Play can help tackle these issues and above all be fun for those that take part, after all if we don’t enjoy something, we are less likely to do it again.

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“We see the value in encouraging adults to play more, by doing that we are likely to encourage more children to play as well.

“A common theme we see amongst parents is the lack of confidence to go outdoors and entertain their children, or not having the time to go out and play, so resorting to quicker and easier play platforms like computers.

“We challenge this by giving every individual we work with new ideas for play and show them the benefits that real play can have, not only on them but the people around them.”

The UN has designated March 3 as World Wildlife Day every year since 2013, and events take place around the world to raise awareness of wildlife and promote conservation and sustainability.

Further information about World Wildlife Day can be found at

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