UNIQUE play sessions are offering city kids the chance to shoot each other with foam darts – and get a much-needed workout into the bargain.
As the Capital battles a child obesity crisis, organiser Neil McClory said his monthly sessions featuring classic NERF toy guns are giving video console-addicted youngsters a chance to run around with pals and get their hearts pumping.
The sessions, which take place at the Gambado play centre and began in February, have proved so popular Mr McClory, 39, an IT manager by day, is considering running them more frequently at venues across the Capital and Lothians.
He said: “Parents’ feedback is that I should be doing it more often and in more venues – I’m no Duncan Bannatyne but if it really takes off, I won’t hold back!
“The great thing about the NERF sessions is that kids get a workout and they don’t even realise it.”
The two-hour sessions accommodate up to 40 under-13s who pay £6 to take part in individual and team events under the watchful gaze of their parents and four referees.
Each child brings their own NERF blaster – a classic toy gun owned by US games giant Hasbro and a staple of kids’ entertainment since the early 1970s – with the small, brightly-coloured foam darts provided by Mr McClory.
The Liberton dad said inspiration for the venture came from playing at home with his own children – Drew, seven, and Finn, 11 – who received NERF guns and darts as Christmas presents.
“We were playing together in the house, just like every other family at Christmas,” he said. “We just decided that we needed more space. Given I have years of experience of running events such as the city’s La Mascarade Halloween ball and the Edindocs film festival, I knew I could produce a proper, structured event so I quickly looked into a venue that we could use that we could also invite their friends to.”
He said offering Edinburgh’s sedentary youngsters a chance to socialise with each other and get some exercise was a key motivation.
“I’m pretty lucky – my kids are very active,” he said. “But in general, it can be quite difficult to get a kid out and doing stuff, especially in winter.”
Parents have praised the sessions as an opportunity for their children to get active.
Dad-of-two Kenny Moffat, 32, from Bonnyrigg, who takes his seven-year-old son, James, said: “When he gets home it’s straight to bed and it’s always a late rise the next morning – which for a parent is absolutely fantastic. The great thing is, instead of sitting around with video consoles, they’re getting out to play and meeting new friends.”
The next session takes place tomorrow at 6pm. For more information, log on to www.facebook.com/FoamDart Thunder/events.