In the run-up to half-term, Play England is asking the public to share their favourite play places or help out at a local play project, as part of the Love Outdoor Play campaign.
This summer more than 11,000 volunteers have spent nearly 65,000 hours giving their time to local play projects and events that support children’s play.
Since January, Play England and the Free Time Consortium, made up of 17 local and specialist play organisations, have been recruiting play volunteers for what they are calling a 'play army', as part of a £2m grant-funded programme by the Cabinet Office.
As part of the project volunteers have helped run holiday play schemes and built play spaces.
Cath Prisk, director of Play England hosted by the National Children’s Bureau, urged people to help children get outside and play this half-term, and share their much-loved play areas with others on an online play map.
‘There is a staggering amount of evidence that outdoor play is an essential part of children’s health and happiness, yet children face more barriers to playing outside than ever before. Crucially, having children playing outside, and actively involving adults in providing great play opportunities for them, make our communities better places to live,’ she said.
Previous research by Play England revealed that just 21 per cent of children play outdoors every day near their home, compared to 71 per cent of their parents when they were children
Ms Prisk added, ‘We’ve been overwhelmed with the support Love Outdoor Play has received from the public so far. During the Olympic summer thousands got involved in helping kids play outdoors, be active, have fun, make friends, get to know their neighbours and connect to local patches of nature. We are now calling on everyone - whatever time, money or resources they can spare - to give something back this half-term and help a kid get closer to nature and get outside and play.’
Nick Hurd, minister for civil society, said, ‘If you wanted to volunteer and get involved in the Olympics this summer but missed out, why not consider helping more young people play outdoors this autumn half-term by becoming a play volunteer. We all know how much children love playing outside and how important it is to their development, which is why I would encourage people to get involved to make this half-term special for more children.’
- For ideas on how you can take action to make sure more children can play out more often, visit www.loveoutdoorplay.net