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Policy manifesto for children’s freedom to play out

How Government policy could support children to play out this summer and beyond

For children, “playing out” means being able to go outside your front door, perhaps call on a friend, cycle around the block or kick a ball about on a rough patch of grass. It might be supervised, or semi-supervised – your independence gradually increasing with age. It is free in all senses of the word. Unfortunately, all the evidence shows that this freedom and independence for children has decreased over the past generation.

We believe that children NEED this chance to play out near home – for their health, happiness, development, sense of community and a host of other reasons.Group of children skipping

Play streets have shown clearly that children want to play out together and to be active – and, when the conditions are right, they do so. It is our responsibility as a society to do what we can to create these conditions, remove the barriers and enable ALL children – regardless of race, background or where they live – to play out as part of their everyday lives.

Whilst play streets and other community-led initiatives have many benefits and are a great sign that people care about children’s need to play out, they are not the long-term answer. There is only so much that communities and individuals can do to change things – the scale of the problem requires a radical Government policy response.

We therefore call for:

  1. Public health policy that recognises informal outdoor play as the foundation for children’s physical activity and fundamental to their overall health and wellbeing.
  2. Transport policy that drastically reduces traffic danger and dominance, making residential streets safe for children to walk, cycle and play.
  3. Planning policy that ensures a child-friendly built environment.
  4. Housing policy that protects and prioritises children’s need to play out where they live.
  5. Environmental policy that ensures children breathe clean air around their homes and schools.
  6. Children’s right to play out where they live to be protected and defended in law and in practice.

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