The following organisations have kindly offered their words of support for our Play Must Stay report:
We welcome the Play Must Stay campaign and recognise the unique and crucial role that public playgrounds play in children’s development and mental and physical health. The Children First Alliance seeks to put children at the heart of politics and the alarming, sustained decline in playgrounds should be reversed as a matter of priority. A dedicated Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People would be ideally placed to push this topic higher up the political agenda.
The UK is one of the most densely populated and urbanised countries in Europe. As such, community playground provision is vital to ensure all children have equal access to areas where they can play outdoors. For many children, particularly the most disadvantaged, playgrounds represent their only chance for free, outdoor play and socialisation.
We fully support the Play Must Stay campaign in its objective to provide an alternative to the dominance that digital culture has in children’s lives. This research clearly shows that parents see a significant shift from outdoor play to indoor screen time and this rightly concerns them. Parents need not only support but also easy access to good, local playgrounds to ensure that outdoor play is second nature for their children.
I know first-hand the worry that so many parents have about how their children spend their free time and their daily battles to get their children off screens and outdoors. Parents compare their childhoods – full of outdoor play – with those of their own children who are locked onto their screens, and they are right to be concerned. I welcome the Play Must Stay campaign and fully endorse its call for urgent investment in playgrounds before they disappear for good.
The benefits of outdoor play are well known and the consequences for children who do not play freely outdoors are profound. We are facing growing numbers of children who are overweight or obese as well as children who are suffering greatly with mental health problems. Outdoor play and activity are a powerful antidote to these issues and for the majority of children public playgrounds are one of their few chances to play outdoors freely and safely.
This is one of our greatest challenges; digital technology has much to offer and yet it is helping to create a culture where children are not moving and not socialising. We need an urgent shift in emphasis so that children’s default setting is once again to play outside and there is no doubt that public play provision is key in this.
e: [email protected] m: 07740 622769
Playing outdoors was a massive part of my childhood and I believe it has helped to shape me as a person and has led me to what I am currently doing in my job as a PE teacher.
As a child I would often take a rugby ball to the park where I would practice my skills with friends. I definitely think that being able to do this from a young age has helped me to have a successful rugby career.
Growing up I was fortunate to live next door to a large park with 3 different play areas and I have many great memories from spending time there. I still love being active outdoors and I think this comes from enjoying it as a child. I fully support the campaign and I think it’s really important that all children are physically active from a young age and play areas in local parks are a brilliant way of achieving that. Parents can use the spaces to encourage their children to have fun whilst being active and this will hopefully then continue with them for the rest of their lives.
I have recently started a summer-long project exploring how less screen time and more time spent in playgrounds impacts not only my two boys’ lives but our family as a whole. Already I can see a marked difference in their health and wellbeing. My children are happier, they sleep well, their behaviour is better and I can’t wait to see how they progress throughout the summer holiday period. I know that many parents are waiting for this debate to take place; so many of us know that our children are not outside enough and spend far too much time indoors and on screens. Parents need and deserve support to turn this around. I and many of my peers welcome this timely campaign. We have wonderful playgrounds and parks in the UK that we need to make use of and value.
e: [email protected] m: 07557 918568
This important research highlights the challenges that parents face in ensuring that their children get enough unstructured outdoor play time. Outdoor play is vital for children’s physical health and development as well as their psychological development. At a time when we’re seeing rising rates of mental health problems in young children and with the constant draw of screens, it is more important than ever that children’s have access to innovative, exciting play spaces in their local communities.
As simple-but-effective parenting strategies go, it’s hard to beat getting the kids into their wellies and out to the swings. It can salvage a fractious afternoon, wear out the most hyped-up toddler, get everyone away from the biscuit tin and – if you’re lucky – remind you all that you are actually quite fond of each other. In combatting isolation and loneliness, it can also be nearly as important for parents as it is for children, so it’s really disappointing to see that a third of the Mumsnet users surveyed said they’d experienced the closure or neglect of their local play facilities.
We welcome the latest research from API. It is vital that all children, should enjoy healthy, active outdoor recreation within walking distance of home. Children learn physical literacy through play, long before they participate in any formal sporting activity so the provision of outdoor spaces for play is vital, not just for healthy development but also building confidence, friendships and resilience. Our own research reveals that there is an unequal distribution of these facilities, so we believe that the play spaces which currently provide multiple opportunities for children to play, need to be protected.
Play England is delighted to support the PlayMustStay campaign. We are very concerned about the impact of playground closures on children’s health and wellbeing. Too many children are at home all day in front of screens, missing out on the benefits of outdoor play – fun, freedom and friendships. We call on local authorities to prioritise investment in playgrounds and help get children back out to play.
I believe that closing playgrounds and reducing opportunities for children to play safely will exacerbate issues such as anti-social behaviour, obesity and mental health issues. Children need access to the free, active, imaginative, social play types that playgrounds facilitate as they are the most valuable parts of a child’s play diet. Without safe, outdoor places for children to play actively with friends they are likely to spend more time on the solitary, sedentary, passive screen-based play and this is going to have long term impact on their development.
Playgrounds and parks are essential facilities for every community. They must therefore be readily available to all children within walking distance, be of good quality and be properly maintained. The main way to ensure this is to make the management of parks a statutory service, predominantly funded through ring-fenced Government grants to Local Authorities.
British children are part of a global pandemic of low physical activity, particularly outdoor play. Yet free unstructured outdoor play is now a health requirement for children’s physical and psychological development. The findings of this survey reinforce those of academic studies. We know that when children are outdoors, they move more and sit down less, and as the majority now live in urban areas it is imperative that they have access to good playgrounds. Ever present screen technology in children’s homes offers a powerful inducement not to move and certainly not to move outdoors. And to get them moving more, we need to limit the lure of indoor screen entertainment. While screen entertainment may be considered a luxury, outdoor play is not and needs to be aggressively supported and promoted. Playgrounds are a good place to start.
e: [email protected] m: 07796 267363 (text or leave voicemail)
The FSPA fully supports the Play Must Stay campaign. Playing outdoors is vital for the health and wellbeing of children and playgrounds are an integral part of childhood. The decline in public play provision is hugely concerning, coming as it does in the midst of an obesity epidemic and a mental health crisis amongst children. It’s short-sighted to deprive millions of children, particularly those in the most disadvantaged areas, the opportunities to play outdoors that most of us took for granted. We hope that this marks the start of a much- needed upsurge in the number and quality of playgrounds across the UK.