Addressing a community crisis through freestyle play

Bounce school holidays adelaide
Discover how BOUNCE has evolved over the years to address the community crisis of screen addiction and sedentary lifestyles by fostering active freestyle play.

WORDS: Ant Morrell, BOUNCE Co-Founder

When we launched BOUNCE in 2012, the last thing we thought we were launching was an ‘activist brand’ that would play a role in addressing mobile phone screens and social media obsession. But 12 years on, screen addiction is a known virus in communities across the globe, and its unintended consequences are throwing our behaviour and social systems into a ‘new normal’ that is pretty concerning.

In fact, a recent Australian Bureau of Statistics study found 70 per cent of children aged two to 17 fail to meet daily physical activity guidelines. Interacting and socialising through active play competes with this now established norm of game playing in relative isolation – heads down, eyes glued to the screen, spending little time outdoors or exercising.

Speaking to BOUNCE customers and standing in a busy venue, we are learning that BOUNCE is seen by many as an important antidote to these shared problems we are all navigating. That was not our original plan, but it has become our purpose.

Ant Morell, BOUNCE Co-Founder, addresses staff at a BOUNCE venue

When we started BOUNCE, we were excited about making adrenaline-fused freestyle experiences available to the mainstream population. GoPro hype reels and Red Bull advertising were showing that the top one per cent of the planet were doing amazing things.

The human athlete in all its awesome potential was running wild and we wanted to ensure everyone – no matter their age or skill level – could get a taste of it. So, we made it easy and we made it fun: trampolines connected in a giant maze, foam padding, airbags, and foam pits. We sought to replace the constraints of gravity with spring and sponge and give everyone physical superpowers in an instant.

But now we see that the real contribution of BOUNCE seems to be just getting kids into physical freestyle play without even realising they’re exercising. By developing positive relationships with physical activity and forgetting and iPads and iPhones – at least for an hour – we can see the role of BOUNCE in the community is providing self-powered, joy-filled, active “entertainment”.

Now that we understand this contribution, we feel a sense of responsibility to take it as far as we can.

Parents trust and respect the BOUNCE brand and kids think it’s cool. It’s hard to please both these camps and when you do, you find yourself in a privileged and powerful position to impact change.

When the Heart Foundation asked us to co-host a media launch of Australia’s ‘Active Healthy Kids Report Card’ it signalled to us the positive impact we were already having and what role we could play if we dialled a few things up.

A mum recently told me that the first time she’d seen her kids sweat was at BOUNCE. She pointed out all the red cheeks, big smiles, wet hair, and beads of sweat on a sea of little faces. I had never really noticed it before but now I see it every time I’m in one of our venues.

We have now tried to capture all this our purpose statement: Inspire movement, self-expression, and human connection. And we have found a sense of meaning in this that has unlocked a lot of passion and pride in our team.

We still want everyone to get an awesome taste of freestyle fun. But what really excites us now is helping set up healthy mindsets and habits around physical activity, free from the hard edge of competition that can often turn kids off participation.

Excitingly, it feels like we are just getting started in an emerging category and that the world loves and needs more freestyle play.

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