The Association of Play Industries is one of a number of key organisations who will be working alongside Dr Helen Dodd from the University of Reading on the first large-scale study into how risky play affects children’s emotional well-being.

A new £1.1m research grant provided by UK Research and Innovation and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will enable Dr Dodd to understand what effect ‘adventurous play’ has on supporting children to build emotional resilience and combat anxiety.

Dr Helen Dodd from the Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY) Research Clinic at the University of Reading said:

“We’re going to be researching whether children’s adventurous play can decrease levels of anxiety experienced by young people. By looking to increase children’s opportunities for adventurous play, the quality of life for children could be improved and future mental health issues could be prevented.”

API Chair Mark Hardy, said: “As the number of children with mental health problems continues to rise, we’re pleased to be able to support this timely research.  Outdoor play is essential for healthy physical and mental development and the role that adventurous play has in combatting anxiety will be of great interest to all those involved in children’s welfare.

“Children are now facing a compelling ‘pull’ to stay indoors from screens, with children choosing their laptops and mobile phones over outdoor play.  At the same time, there is a crisis in play provision with the number of community playgrounds closing at an alarming rate.  Screens are displacing play and, in many areas, children have nowhere to play.”

Dr Dodd continued: “The project will be carried out in partnership with those who set play policy and design play areas.  I’m looking forward to meeting some of the API members and working towards every child having access to environments where they can develop emotional resilience.”

Dr Helen Dodd is one of the first academics from a group of 42 researchers and business leaders selected for a UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowship to tackle pressing global challenges.


Editors Notes:
The Association of Play Industries (API) is the lead trade body within the play sector and campaigns at the highest levels for policy recognition for play. Its members are leading manufacturers, installers, designers and distributors of both outdoor and indoor play equipment and safety surfacing. Founded in 1984, the API represents 85% of the play industry.

Follow us on Twitter: @apiplay   @API_ChairUK

The API operates under the umbrella of the Federation of Sports and Play Associations (FSPA), the national trade body responsible for representing Sports and Play Associations in the UK’s sport and play industries.

Media Contact: Mary Lubrano e: [email protected] t: 07999 550452

What is adventurous play?
Adventurous play is often called risky play, and is a form of play that is thrilling and exciting and where children are given space to take age-appropriate risks (Sandseter, 2009). Adventurous play is facilitated by outdoor spaces. Research on adventurous or risky play supports suggestions that it can have a positive effect on children’s health (Burssoni et al., 2015) but this will be the first large-scale project examining how it affects emotional well-being.