Call to put an end to the crisis in play

The Children’s Play Policy Forum has issued a policy statement identifying a crisis in childhood and calling for more children’s play opportunities.

The cancellation of public liability insurance for children’s playgrounds comes at a time when new research is encouraging less screen time and more outdoor play.

The Children’s Play Policy Forum is made up of play specialists from across the UK who are warning that modern life is squeezing play – especially outdoor play – to the margins of children’s lives limiting the natural growth and development that occurs when children play.

The statement entitled “Play Builds Children” goes on to say that mental health of a generation is at risk. Obesity in children is at epidemic levels and increases in life expectancy have stalled.

Chair of the Children’s Play Policy Forum Robin Sutcliffe said: “The need for such a statement has never been so urgent, the importance of play never so great, nor the rewards so significant.

"My hope is that, in the light of interest in the current issues of Adventure Playgrounds, the significance of this statement to the wellbeing and potential for our children will be realised and supported. It is vital to recognise that Play Builds Children.”

The Children’s Play Policy Forum warns that the cost to society of allowing these trends to continue is significant including the human cost of physical and mental ill-health, an increased demand on public services, and damage to the economy through lost productivity and skills gaps.

Chairman of the Association of Play Industries Mark Hardy said: “The Children’s Play Policy Forum (CPPF) have just published the attached positioning statement, supported by the API, encapsulating the disparate views of the play sector into a succinct set of messages upon which we all agree. It’s great to see that play, especially outdoor play, is receiving attention over the last few weeks since we launched our Movement4Movement campaign.

"The importance of play in children’s lives is an issue that the general public care about, particularly parents. We must now build on this and capture the attention of government to act. Screen time is replacing play time and playgrounds are on the decline, so I am urging everyone to sign our petition asking the Health Secretary to issue a 2-hour per day screentime guideline and to re-invest in playgrounds before they disappear.”

The recent announcements from Matt Hancock MP detailing the NHS preventative agenda is to be welcomed, but the CPPF insist that lack of play leaves children mentally and physically unprepared to cope with life. On the other hand, there are huge benefits to be gained when sufficient time and space is available for children to play every day. These benefits contribute to the prevention of the prime issues of health, mental health, obesity and school exclusion – key issues in need of urgent resolution. Play builds happy, healthy children.

The CPPF policy statement calls on Government, the devolved administrations and local authorities to work together and make sure that children and society are not fundamentally damaged by the lack of play in children’s everyday lives.

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