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The Campaign to Revive Child's Play Outdoors

27/03/2010 Children's campaigners have issued a firm demand to enshrine the right of kids to play outside in safety.

The Play England charity warned ministers that the public are increasingly concerned about the lack of decent facilities for children's outdoor play, with director Adrian Voce telling the BBC that it is fast becoming a "serious issue for voters."

Many traditional toys are focused on outdoor play, such as tricycles, go-karts, swings and climbing frames. The one thing these toys have in common is that they require a sufficient amount of space to be used. The benefits of such outdoor play is well-known, helping physical fitness, as well as social interaction, hand-eye co-ordination and encourages self-expression.

Kicking off the campaign last week, Play England issued a manifesto containing a number of demands to be taken up and enacted by legislators. It also revealed the results of a poll, which shows that a massive 83 per cent of adults want the government to promote policies aimed at encouraging outdoor play among children - and growing concern that opportunities for this sort of play are denied many children.

Some of the reasons for this include modern-day fears about traffic and child protection, the result of which is that kids get ferried between school and the home, or are forced to stay inside and partake in possibly less active forms of play.

In contrast, the Play England poll found that "71 per cent of adults used to play near their home every day when they were a child compared to only 21 per cent of children today."

The charity insists that safe areas for outdoor play must be officially recognised as a priority for current and future governments.

Mr Voce told the BBC: "There is a tendency to think of children's play as something that isn't a matter for government, but the modern world has erected many barriers to something that used be taken for granted, with growing consequences for children's health and development."

"Communities where children can play in freedom and safety are happy, healthy communities. We want to know what each of the parties will do for children's play if they are elected."

Among other things, his charity's manifesto calls upon all political parties to pledge "to make all residential neighbourhoods child-friendly places where children can play outside, " imposing 20mph speed limits and calling upon town planners to design public places with children's play in mind.

Another key pledge in the manifesto is for governments "to give all children the time and opportunity to play throughout childhood" - which would in reality translate into directing schools to preserve traditional playtimes and to cherish and protect their outdoor play areas.

This leads up to the third pledge - "to give all children somewhere to play - in freedom and safety - after school and in the holidays."

Play England wants this to become a reality by encouraging local authorities and schools to ensure that properly-staffed outdoor play areas are always available to local communities, in the form of playgrounds and after-school clubs. These areas must be available at all times, especially during school holiday periods.


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