While every day of the year should be a play day, this Wednesday was the National Day for Play.
Thousands of children and their families, as well as the play and children’s services, turned out to take part in play at hundreds of community events across the UK. This special day for celebrating childhood highlighted the importance of play in children’s lives.
Sadly, we have recently seen a reduction in play spaces and opportunities for children, but as Pitsmoor and Highfields’ Adventure Playgrounds, Sheffield Green Spaces Forum, Fair Play for Children and Sheffield Children’s Centre show, supporting quality play where children live can make a huge difference to children, families, communities and our wonderful city.
Recent collective commissioned research into play across the UK has found that intolerant attitudes and a lack of dedicated community spaces are preventing children from playing out where they live. Research also shows play can be a catalyst in communities, as Pitsmoor Adventure Playground successfully demonstrates. Children playing out where they live, improves community spirit, and helps families to get to know each other.
Through playful opportunities children learn to solve problems. Play supports health and wellbeing and as they make-believe in challenging outdoor play spaces, they learn to take risks and grow in creativity and innovation.
Resolving conflict and developing cognitively, emotionally and physically, they acquire citizenship skills and learn to care for themselves and others as well as the environment. Self-esteem and self-confidence, through engaging play, aids development of essential life skills.
As adults, we need to recognise the importance of allowing children to play in their own way and time and support them through developing and sustaining long-term play places.
These are exciting times in Sheffield as we strive to coordinate play opportunities, building on the good work being delivered by Play England, Yorkshire Play and Sheffield Scrap Store.
So let’s keep doing something really essential by letting the city’s children play.