Positive news from parliament for the first time in a long time, with the launch of a new report on play from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood. Central to the report is its call for the promotion of play as part of a ‘whole child’ strategy. Read more on the website of Adrian Voce, former director of Play England.
Policy for Play
A Parliamentary report on children’s play, published today, calls for play to be at the centre of a ‘whole child’ approach to health and wellbeing.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin, today launches its long-awaited report on children’s play.
Announcing the report, the group says that ‘whilst there is broad consensus about the importance of physical activity in the battle against obesity, play (policy) has lost political momentum in recent years and the report calls for a fresh approach’.
In a statement released alongside the report today, Baroness Benjamin says that the group’s ‘proposals on play are ‘integral to a “whole child” strategy for health and wellbeing and should not be regarded as an “add on”. Of course encouraging children to participate in sport is important, but in practice, not all children are “sporty”. Play benefits children of all ages…
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Yesterday brought more news of a looming public health crisis. Over one in three English adults has pre-diabetes (blood glucose levels that place them at significant risk of full-blown type 2 diabetes) according to a new academic study. What is more, the proportion has more than tripled between 2003 and 2011.
Diabetes is already a huge public health problem. According to Diabetes UK, nearly one-tenth of the NHS budget (£12 billion a year) is spent on treating type 2 diabetes: lest we forget, a largely preventable illness.
Being more physically active cuts the risk of type 2 diabetes. Physically active children are more likely to grow up to be physically active adults. And there is robust evidence that improving outdoor play opportunities boosts children’s physical activity levels. (I will say more on this when my evidence report is published shortly.) All of which adds up to a compelling public health case for investment in play provision. So why are play advocates not saying more about the contribution we can make to the nation’s physical health?
First, I would like to thank everyone who has responded so far to my appeal last month for evidence to build the policy case for play. The material I have received has almost without exception fitted my brief. But there are gaps, so I am putting out one last call for help.
Playday, Bristol City Council
Earlier this month I went to Denmark to give a speech at the Nordic Adventure conference, whose theme was reconnecting children with nature. It was not my first visit to the region. I can clearly remember that trip: a study tour in 2003 during my secondment to Whitehall to lead the first UK Government review of children’s play. Back then, I came home inspired by what I had seen – like the nature park at Valbyparken, which had just been built, and which is now one of the city’s most popular parks.
Many of the international delegates to this conference also came looking for inspiration. But this time, I had a different goal. I wanted to get behind the success stories – the beautiful spaces, the switched-on educators, the generously funded programmes – and find out whether it really is so easy for the Nordic nations to make nature a meaningful part of children’s everyday lives. I wanted to hear about the problems, the barriers and the challenges.
Posted in Education, Learning, Nature, Public policy
Tagged copenhagen, Denmark, education, nature, norway, outdoor learning, policy, Scandinavia, sweden
How does Denmark’s capital city meet its children’s need for outdoor play – and what can other nations learn from its approach? For a well-researched, gloriously detailed, beautifully presented answer, look no further than a new report from Australian architect Tanya Vincent.
Yesterday’s launch of the Good Childhood report from the Children’s Society has prompted more soul-searching about childhood. Coverage has focused on the report’s finding that half a million of the country’s children aged 8 to 16 – nearly 10 per cent – had a low sense of well-being. This is indeed a troubling finding – even if some of those children will become happier over time. Yet this media focus, while understandable, misses out a far more important message: the crucial value of a taste of freedom and autonomy. Continue reading
Posted in Mobility, Outdoor play, Public policy
Tagged childhood, children's independent mobility, children's society, free range kids, freedom, mobility, policy, public policy, well-being