• Posted on Jan 19, 2017
  • BLOG

I’m Mark Hardy, Chair of the API.  Welcome to my new blog.  I lead the association’s strategic direction and, specifically, the UK play industry’s strategy on tackling the physical inactivity crisis.

We are at a tipping point as far as physical inactivity goes.  Children are naturally hard-wired to play and be physically active, yet inactivity as a root cause of obesity is now an entrenched health crisis.  Without tackling this significant issue from the ground up, we risk overburdening the NHS as it struggles to cope with the effects.  Play has a vital contribution to make in getting children moving more.

There has never been greater need for the “bold, brave measures” promised – but sadly missing from – the government’s obesity strategy.  According to the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), obesity prevalence in the school year 2015/16 was more than twice as high in year 6 (19.8%) as in reception (9.3%).

Obesity has increased since 2014/15 in both reception (9.1% in 14/15) and year 6 (19.1% in 2014/15), with over a fifth of children (22.1%) in reception and a third (34.2%) in year 6 now overweight or obese.  Children living in the most deprived areas were twice as likely to be obese than those living in the least deprived areas, and boys were more likely to be obese than girls.

The Prime Minister said she would review the national obesity strategy if its measures weren’t effective.  There isn’t a minute to lose.  Local authority budgets are under pressure – parks are being sold off and playgrounds closed.  Many children simply have nowhere to play.  This is a national disgrace and contravenes their fundamental human rights.

The API’s mission is two-fold:

  •  To convince policy makers of the benefits of play to children’s development, physical and mental health and well-being.
  • To provide high-quality facilities for play and physical activity that benefit local communities.

Find out more about the API’s Nowhere to Play campaign here

Mark Hardy, API Chairman