Government funding to encourage more children to play in the street

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The Department of Health (DoH) has announced more than 5m of funding to encourage children and families to exercise more.

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According to the public health minister Anna Soubry, statistics from the latest Active People survey show only a third of boys and a quarter of girls meet the recommendation for at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Also, that nearly 30 per cent of adults are active for less than 30 minutes per week.

To encourage children and their families to ‘get up and active’, the DoH is investing £3m to expand the number of Change4Life School Sports Clubs, £1.1m for street play and £1m on walking initiatives.

There are currently 8,000 Change4Life School Sports Clubs across the country - designed to increase physical activity levels in less active primary and secondary children.

The Street Play project, a three-year partnership between Play England, Playing Out, London Play and Bristol University, aims to 'reactivate' a culture of children playing out in the streets near where they live.

It follows a pilot scheme last year by the University of Bristol in which a number of streets were closed to traffic for two to three hours so children could play outside. An evaluation of the pilot found that children living on the closed streets were more likely to be outside and playing more actively (running, skipping, rollerskating).

The Playday 2013 survey also revealed that traffic has now overtaken ‘stranger danger’ as the number one reason parents don’t let children out to play and why children say they can’t go out.

As part of the Street Play project, residents and communities in up to nine target areas with poor outcomes will be supported to encourage street play in their neighbourhoods. This will be achieved by working with locally based organisations to advise local authorities on the policies and processes that can increase children’s activity.

The project will also campaign locally and nationally to promote and increase acceptance of street play, sharing examples of what is working already in communities, along with supporting parents and communities to start resident-led street play.

The DoH funding for walking initiatives will be available to the eight cities- awarded the Department for Transport Cycling Cities Ambition Grant, they are Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich.

Cath Prisk, director of Play England said, ‘Active children become active adults and we know one of the places children are most active is on the streets outside their own homes.

‘Everyone can do something to make their own communities more playful and we are very happy to be given this opportunity to support residents and local voluntary groups across in England in making their own streets playful again.’

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