The Value of Play
Play is an important part of community life and offers many benefits to people of all ages, especially children! Here we examine some of the benefits:
Research from the British Heart Foundation's National Centre for Physical Activity and Health recommend that children of all ages spend at least 45 minutes each day engaged in active play. This might include running around in your local park, moving about on a climbing frame or swinging on a set of swings.
To learn more about how long your child should spend playing, check out BHF's physical actvity guidlines, which include recommendations for early years, children and young people, adults and older adults HERE.
Play and Obesity
Active play, as described above, is vital in both preventing and treating obesity in children. It is important to encourage children and give them opportunities to play to reduce the risk of serious health conditions in later life. Explore these slides to get the current picture of childhod obesity in the UK:
Wellbeing and Community
Play is a natural human activity and has a significant impact upon a child’s overall happiness and mental development. As an important part of learning and personal development, play allows us to experiment with different situations and learn how to socialise and interact with others - as well as having fun!
Play is a great way to bring communities together, from families visiting parks and playgrounds; to young people having their own space in youth shelters; to residents working together to make play projects happen. There are three key developments in the play world that support these new ideas.
1) Intergenerational Spaces
These are parks and playgrounds which offer a variety of facilities to
cater for all age groups. These sites often include early-years play
equipment for very young children, youth shelters for young people and
outdoor gym equipment and seating facilities for adults and older
adults. Combined with picnic areas and other facilities this creates parks that are the most accessible and have the widest use for the entire community. Not only does this engender social capital and public ownership, it also creates more opportunities for healthy, happy families.
2) Young Places and Anti-social Behaviour - READ MORE
Young people, especially teenagers, like to have their own space and spend some time apart from their parents and more with their peers. When they are bored and have nothing to do, parks and play areas often become vandalised and sites which attract anti-social behaviour. Giving young people their own spaces in parks such as youth shelters, multi-use game areas and appropriately-sized playground equipment provides them with a place to get active, ownership of the space and a sense of being part of the wider community.
3) Community Action
Through social media, parish councils and residents' groups, communities are more active than ever in getting organised and making new play spaces and events happen in their area. The API Community Hub hosts several resources to guide communities as well as listings on the latest funding streams.