This is the default text

Stopping Children’s Play


Children’s Playground

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.

Tags: , , ,

  • Mossgiel

    Carlton, I agree on the sentiment but let me put another perspective.
    As long as I can remember kids have complained they have nowhere to play, if fact I suspect I was in that number when the reality was I have loads of places to play and loads to do. If we continue to bring up generations of children and young adults who think it’s someone else’s responsibility to find something for them to do then what happens to all this creativity and ambition that we want our kids to have. Now my point really is, I want to see great playgrounds being built but it’s surely not the end of the world if our kids have to kick cans around streets, or climb trees or scrump apples. They’ve always got the XBox to fall back on if they are really really bored.

  • It’s a fair poiint, Davie. I certainly wouldn’t want to suggest that we encourage an unhealthy sense of dependency in our children. However, for young children, that is the under 10s, who aren’t allowed out alone because of their parent’s exaggerated safety fears, the absence of playgrounds leaves no place to be taken outside, for free. Besides which, society’s growing fear, demonisation even, of children in the streets makes the act of climbing trees, kicking a can and so on a ‘public menace’. So children without options will, in all likelihood, be left playing computer games or watching TV in the isolated, enclosed and closeted home environment. And that’s a pretty miserable prospect for most kids’ personal, social and physical development.