Summer of playGet involved
Summer of playGet involved
Playing Out is joining many other organisations and experts to call for everyone to help make this summer a good one for all children, especially those who have suffered the most through lockdown. That means doing everything we can to ensure they have time, space and opportunity to play outside together. Play streets are one great way to do this and we are here to help anyone interested in this idea.
Children have had a pretty rough deal through the pandemic, with long periods of being stuck indoors and unable to see their friends. They have sacrificed a lot in order to keep older and more vulnerable people safe. This has badly impacted both their mental and physical health. We have heard many really worrying reports from parents about their children becoming anxious, depressed and inactive.
And this all comes on top of a much longer-term loss of freedom to play out – what our good friend Tim Gill has called “a gradual creeping lockdown” for children over several decades. Recent research found that the average age children are allowed to play out unsupervised has risen from 9 to 11 in just one generation. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that our streets have become much more traffic-dominated, but the overall impact is that it is far less easy and normal for children to play out freely as part of everyday life. We think – and experts agree – that they are missing out on something really important.
So now is the time for us all – parents, communities, schools, organisations and politicians – to give children back their freedom to play outside. Not only will this help them recover from the past year, it will also give them a huge amount of what they need to be happy and healthy in the longer term: physical activity, fun, friendship, independence and a sense of belonging in their communities.
The great thing about play is it costs nothing, given the time, safe space and opportunity, children just do it naturally.
Everyone has a role to play in giving children the time, space and permission they need in order to play freely. Parents and other adults, schools, community organisations, councils and housing associations, Government – we can all help. Many of us enjoyed this freedom when we were younger and children now need it now more than ever. Let’s all do what we can to make it happen this summer and start the ball rolling to restore a culture of play longer-term.
One thing we can all do right now is help raise awareness about the importance of play for children’s health and wellbeing by using the hashtag #SummerOfPlay and sharing positive stories. By doing this, you are automatically part of and supporting a summer of play for all children. See our play streets comms pack for some sample social media messages and feel free to download and use these social media assets.
Here are some other ways you can help:
Councils and housing associations can support a summer of play by adopting and promoting a supportive play street policy which includes:
Other ways to help:
Government policy on public health, transport, planning, housing, and the environment could support children to play out this summer and beyond. Read our policy manifesto for children’s freedom to play out.