The news today made me cry out with primal rage.
The UK government is cancelling the funding for thousands of community playgrounds. The Playbuilder scheme was a key element of the 2007 Children’s Act and was establlished in response to the universally acknowledged need for safe outdoor places for children to play. Now the government has decided that we cannot afford them.
Play is the cornerstone of child development. By cancelling this program the government diminishes many children’s opportunity to play safely and socially. In doing so they damage their chance of acquiring all of those skills that come from playing; not just the physical health benefits (such as reducing childhood obesity, tackling vitamin D deficiency, improving dexterity, strength and flexibility) but the cognitive, emotional and social skills of building conference, experimentation, problem-solving, teamwork, the ability to deal with failure, imagination and role play. The benefits of play and public life are beautifully described by Alison Kadlec for the National Civic Review (pdf) (Thanks for Pat Kane for that reference).
Removing opportunities for children to play reduces their chance of developing their potential. This cut of playgrounds across the country will amplify the effects of previously announced reductions in the education budget (including the cancellation of the schools building programme). This short term budget-saving will not only impoverish the lives of a generation of children, it will reduce our nation’s long term ability to recover from economic collapse.