Today is PLAYDAY!!!
Today children and young people from across the UK will be taking part in community events to celebrate Playday – the national day for play. A report published in support of the campaign - The Play Return (pdf) - highlights the impact play can have, including the increase in physical activity rates for children where their schools and communities support play. This in turn leads to better results in education and improved health.
In particular free play in school break times, where children and teenagers are encouraged to do what they want to in their own free time, leads to greater physical activity than organised sport, and to better social skills and academic outcomes.
This may seem self-evident - and indeed to many it is irrelevant, play is important in and of itself. But in a world of ever dwindling resources and competing demands, where the philosophical underpinnings of resource allocation is on 'merit', then some good hard facts come in handy. Especially in a world where children are regularly threatened with 'ASBOs' for playing football in the street or climbing trees.Commissioned by the Children’s Play Policy Forum, the report is aimed at politicians and policy makers, and as a tool for campaigners in support of ensuring children have the time, space and opportunity to play outdoors. It was written following a round table last November, hosted by Play England, that brought together Nick Hurd - then Minister for Civil Society - and leaders from health, education, play, housing and the private sector. At the meeting Nick backed 100% the motion that Government should support play, supporting the strong statements made by representatives from organisations such as the Local Government Association, Wilmott Dixon and Public Health England. Author of the report, Tim Gill said
[caption id="attachment_666" align="alignright" width="158"] Credit: Hackney Playing Out[/caption] “Outdoor play impact(s) significantly on the lives of children and young people, it also in many cases can provide a basis for the transformation of wider communities. "From the perspective of politicians and policy makers, the report highlights that investing in play can, and does lead to multiple benefits including improved educational attainment, a healthier society and increased levels of tolerance within and between communities”.As the former Director of Play England who organised that meeting with Nick Hurd, and now the founder of Outdoor People, I say to politicians and policy makers:
It makes no sense to close playgrounds, to reduce school playtimes or to put up 'No Ball Games' signs in a world where a fifth of 5 year olds are overweight or obese, where mental health issues amongst young people are massively on the rise, and where we have to raise a generation ready and willing to fight for the environment. Invest in outdoor play, and you invest in both the present and the future.This year the Playday coordinating organisations across the UK challenge everyone to respond to the statement:
‘Play is…’Outdoor People is responding by saying:
Play is health Play is happiness Play is hopeAnd I ask you: what would the world be like if Play is...not? Now in its 27th year, Playday provides an opportunity for children, young people, parents and communities to come together to highlight and celebrate the positive impact play has on the everyday lives of children and young people. Outdoor People welcomes this report, and encourages everyone to use it where arguments are necessary. Where those in charge of making play happen - in schools, hospitals, housing estates and shopping areas, in parks and green spaces and in streets - need the case made. In Wales that means ensuring Play Wales secures future funding as well as continuing to support the play duty placed on every local authority. In Scotland and Northern Ireland it means lending more support to the Play Strategies that are protecting and encouraging local investment in play. And in England that means everyone pulling together to reinvest in the national strategic body for play, Play England, and communities everywhere fighting back against the encroaching ennui that sees traffic, academic results and 'elf'n'safety as insurmountable barriers, that encourages parents to feel guilty if their kids are playing out and that makes schools reduce the time and space children have to play. You can find a Playday celebration near you on the Playday website: http://playday.org.uk/playday-events/events-near-you.aspx And you can get involved in the UK wide campaigning through contributing to the Facebook page, on Twitter using #Playday2014 or by simply talking about it with your local politicians. Let's get outdoor play back on the agenda. And let's just make it easy to go play outdoors. Have a brilliant Playday! PS - Tomorrow, Thursday 7th August, do tune into ITV's tonight programme where there will be a half hour show dedicated to why kids should be playing out more and including interviews with kids attending Playday 2014 celebrations as well as Bear Grylls, Digby Jones, the report's author Tim Gill and - probably very briefly - me. PPS - Do listen out for Steve Chown of Play England who is due to appear on SIXTEEN different radio stations! They will be doing phone ins and requests, so let them know you support #Playday2014!!