Association for play calls for urgent investment in playgrounds

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A new campaign is calling for ‘urgent and sustained’ investment in public play provision to get children spending more time outside.


The Association of Play Industries wants the Government to invest more in playgrounds to ensure children's access to outdoor play

The Play Must Stay campaign has been launched by the Association of Play Industries (AIP) in reaction to parents’ concerns about the shift from outdoor play to indoor screen time and the limited number of playgrounds.

Findings from an API survey of more than 1,100 Mumsnet users with children from age two, revealed that almost half find it difficult to persuade their child to leave their screen. Around the same percentage of parents said that their child preferred screens over outdoor play.

However, 53 per cent said their child would be more active if they had more access to playgrounds.

But more than a quarter of parents said their local playground had either closed down or been neglected. 

Launched yesterday, the Play Must Stay campaign calls for urgent and sustained investment in public play provision and backs the recommendation from the Children First Alliance that a dedicated cabinet minister for children and young people be appointed to put children at the heart of politics and help drive investment in community playgrounds.

The Children First Alliance, of which the API is a member, is a group campaigning for children to be put at the heart of politics. Its president is Baroness D'Souza.

In the Department for Education, only the education secretary Gavin Williamson and FE (further education) and skills minister Jo Johnson attend Cabinet. 


Mark Hardy, chair of the Association of Play Industries (API), said, ‘Children are being pulled indoors by screens and pushed away from outdoor play because of the alarming and continued decline in public playgrounds. They are experiencing a childhood where time spent playing and being active is negligible compared to previous generations.

‘The overwhelming majority of UK children live in urban areas. For these children, and particularly those in the most disadvantaged areas, public playgrounds are their only chance for outdoor play.

‘For policymakers, the funding of public playgrounds should be a priority because they are both prevention and cure; playgrounds fulfil a unique role in improving children’s movement, social interaction, fitness and physical and mental health. 

‘As a resource to improve children’s health – through movement and outdoor play – the role of public playgrounds should not be under-estimated.  For a relatively modest investment now the health of children could benefit greatly for years to come.  Policy should reflect the reality which is that, in a heavily urbanised and digitally dominated society, public playgrounds really do matter and play must stay.’

The Government has been contacted for a response.

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