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Ingrid Skeels

One way we can all help children recover this summer

posted this in Children's play, health and wellbeing, Play Streets on 05/07/2021

happy child with raised arms

The summer holidays are nearly here! And after a long and extremely difficult year for everyone, we want more than ever to encourage and support parents to help children play out so they can start to reconnect, be active outdoors, have fun and recover.

Please share this new brilliant 90 second film (made by a young Bristol film-maker who grew up on a playing out street!) with everyone you know and help us to spread the huge joys and benefits of free, outdoor play.

The importance of play is also gaining support through the Summer of Play campaign, backed by Save the Children and over 220 organisations and child health experts around the UK including us. If you agree that children need play in their lives in order to be happy and healthy – whether outside, at home or at school – you can sign the Summer of Play pledge and add your voice to ours.

Why children need a summer of play

According to a recent survey by NSPCC, 65% of parents surveyed said their children have played inside more since the start of the pandemic, and 70% have spent less time playing with friends. The YouGov poll found that 79% of parents of children aged three to twelve think playing outside will be important for their child’s wellbeing this summer.

We’re totally behind parents on this. Children have suffered enormously during the pandemic through spending so much time indoors, inactive and isolated. Some children barely left home at all during lockdowns and many have been seriously impacted by reduced physical activity and social interaction. The most disadvantaged children have been the worst affected, deepening existing inequalities around access to free outside space and opportunities to be active and with friends.

All children now need to be able to get outside and play this summer, and experience fun, friendship and freedom. And we, the adults around them, need to do everything to make this possible. Both practically and also by calling for change.

What playing outside gives children

Playing outside together is the natural way that children are active, healthy, make friends, get new skills, become more independent and feel part of where they live. All things they need in spades after lockdowns. And happy, healthy children will be much more ready to learn when September comes around. Watch and share our short film to see the benefits in action.

How to play out this summer

The good news is that outdoor play is something we can all give our children for free. You don’t need a car or to go anywhere special. Playing out can be as simple as giving children some chalk and letting them do hopscotch on the pavement, taking them to the local park with friends and snacks, taking a skipping rope or ball outside, or watching while they scoot or cycle round a car free space. All children really need is safe space, permission to play, and other children to be with – they will do the rest!

play street

Play streets – the perfect recipe for play, community and recovery

Play streets are an excellent way to create more safe space for children on the doorstep. Why not join thousands of parents around the world and organise one where you live? Many councils have now re-opened play street applications, allowing residents to plan some sessions over the summer holidays and beyond. Emma Sarjo from Hull said:

“As a street we can’t wait to start playing out again, neighbours young and old keep asking when we will be able to start it back up again. I can’t wait to see all the kids running up and down the street again and the neighbours sitting chatting on their garden walls it’s what we have all been waiting for!”

Complaints about children playing out?

Not everyone understands what children have been through or the importance of play. We’re hearing of increasing complaints about the noise or even just the fact of children playing outside, with reasons ranging from ‘disturbance to home working’ through to fears for children’s safety.

If you are experiencing difficulties, get in touch so we can support you. Play, including playing outside, is a need and a right for children – in fact we believe it is a social justice issue.  There are ways to help to make playing outside more possible and safe, as well as creating greater community understanding, and there are times when we need to speak up. Children have never needed it more.

Support a #SummerOfPlay

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