Early years settings invited to celebrate National Children's Day

The importance of play to children’s health and well-being is the focus of this year’s National Children’s Day UK on Sunday 17 May.

Early years settings, childcare professionals, parents, carers and children are invited to take part in the annual initiative, organised by the Save Childhood Movement.

This year's theme is the ‘Science and Magic of Play’. Free play packs are available for those planning on holding an event, while stocks last. Events, which may include freeing up an afternoon for free play or playing out on the street, can take place any day of the week leading up to Sunday.

The aim of National Children’s Day UK (NCDUK) 2015 is to raise awareness of the restrictions being placed on children’s play, and to bring together individuals and organisations who want to see play reinstated as ‘essential to human creativity and innovation’.

According to the Save the Childhood Movement, over the last few decades a variety of factors have ‘significantly’ reduced children’s ability to play, including changes in family structure, a more risk-averse society and an increased focus on educational attainment.

The Save Childhood Movement, which is made up of individuals and organisations that share a concern about the erosion of childhood, also claims that play has been increasingly undervalued rather than being seen as essential to children’s social skills, creativity and on-going learning. Campaigners say this not only affects children’s health and well-being, but adults too, as playful and innovative thinking is essential for adult well-being.

Wendy Ellyatt, chief executive of Save Childhood Movement, said, 'Childhood is changing fast. From the impact of screen technology to the restrictions of an increasingly risk-averse culture and the downward pressures of the schooling system, children’s rights and freedoms are being eroded and their opportunities for free play have been drastically reduced.

'The United Kingdom has been very slow in establishing a day that benefits and promotes the welfare of children. We hope that NCDUK will now become a major event in everyone's calendar, as both a celebration of childhood and a day when we explore the rights and freedoms of children in a modern world.'

The City of Bath is including the day as part of its four day Forest of Imagination event with the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution hosting a series of talks and film screenings.

Join in with discussion about the 'Science and Magic of Play' on Twitter using #NCDUK2015.

  • Request a free play pack here .

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