Put simply, play is intrinsic to children’s
quality of life, and essential to their development.
Play is also a vital ingredient of a happy
childhood, and can bring a range of benefits to children’s physical
and mental health, their emotional development and acquisition of
Children’s active play brings far-reaching
rewards to society in general. There is an obvious contribution to
the objectives of health professionals who want to increase the
amount of physical activity children partake in, contributing to a
halt of the year-on-year increase in obesity in children under 11
Providing engaging play opportunities in areas
where there is little else for children and young people to do can
help address concerns about anti-social behaviour.
However, there are increasing barriers to
children’s play, especially outdoor play.
Traffic, crime (or the fear of crime),
decreasing open space and changing pressures on children and
families can all restrict children’s freedom.
In a recent letter to their members, the
Association of Chief Police Officers emphasised that ‘good play and
recreational facilities contribute to reduced youth crime, help
build safer communities and tackle the problem of social
The letter goes on to ask for community-based
officers to actively feed into the plans of local authorities, play
partnerships and third sector groups, and to take an active role in
the design of play areas and the routes used to travel to them.
Play and active travel can help excluded
youngsters feel part of a community, reduce carbon emissions,
provide local employment opportunities, and increase residents'
satisfaction with the places where they live.
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