The Association of Play Industries (API) recently attended a dinner at the House of Lords to launch a campaign for the appointment of a Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People.
Standing in for API Chair Mark Hardy, Mary Lubrano of the FSPA said: “It’s important that the interests of children and young people are represented at the highest levels. As it stands, there is no one Minister responsible for the health and wellbeing of children and their needs are being neglected.”
Life Peer Baroness D’Souza is spearheading the campaign and brought together the working group of leading organisations in the field to brainstorm next steps.
“Today’s children and young people are facing an unprecedented set of circumstances meaning that for many their mental and physical health is at crisis point. The dominance of digital culture and rising levels of inactivity and obesity mean that this current generation could be the most unhealthy and unhappy to date,” said Mary.
“Central to the campaign is the recognition that joined-up action is urgently required; currently government departments work largely in isolation. A Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People would put children at the heart of politics and introduce policies across departments which would directly benefit them.
“The event was an opportunity to update the group on the API’s Nowhere to Play and Movement for Movement campaigns: the dominance of digital culture has created a strong inducement to stay indoors and, at the same time, there is a dramatic and sustained reduction in public outdoor play provision.
“For the overwhelming majority of UK children and young people living in urban areas, this is a dangerous cocktail; children are being ‘pulled’ indoors by screens and ‘pushed’ away from outdoor play because of the decline in accessible public playgrounds.
“In one of the most densely populated, urbanised countries in Europe, with ever-shrinking opportunities for children to play outdoors, public playgrounds play a crucial role in improving children’s movement levels and, in turn, their physical and mental health. Playgrounds uniquely provide a safe, traffic-free environment in and around our towns and cities and for many children they represent their only chance for outdoor play.
“The API wants to see playgrounds prioritised before they disappear for good. As a resource to foster the health of children and young people – through movement and outdoor play – the role of public playgrounds should not be under-estimated. For a relatively modest government investment now the health and wellbeing of children would benefit greatly for years to come. A dedicated Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People would be ideally placed to effect policies to ensure that playgrounds are protected.”
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 currently has 63 members.
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.