It builds on the API’s Play Must Stay campaign, which has shown that parents are becoming increasingly concerned with the steep decline in public playgrounds. With the vast majority of families living in urban areas, community playgrounds are often their only chance to get their children playing outdoors and the winter months present even more challenges.
Play Must Stay campaign
Mark Hardy, API Chair, said: “Without access to free, local, high-quality outdoor play facilities, children can spend most of the winter cooped up indoors. The closure of hundreds of playgrounds across the UK means that the reality for many families is that children are not even getting the minimum recommended amount of daily exercise. In the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic and rising mental health problems, we are calling on the government to urgently invest in public play provision before it’s too late.”
Leyla Preston added: “Last year our summer project explored how less screen time and more time spent in playgrounds impacted not only my two boys’ lives but our family as a whole. I saw a dramatic difference in their health and wellbeing. My children were happier, they slept better and their behavior improved.
“I know that many parents are waiting for this debate to take place; so many of us know that our children are not outside enough and spend far too much time indoors and on screens, especially in winter. Parents need and deserve support to turn this around. We have wonderful playgrounds in the UK that we need to value and protect, as well as campaign for government investment in them before they disappear for good.
Playgrounds are meeting places for communities
“Winter play in playgrounds means that children escape indoor germs, benefit from the fresh air, get an essential dose of vitamin D and, of course, the chance to play, learn and let off steam. Playgrounds are also focal points and meeting places for communities; when children spend time excessive time indoors they are denied the social interaction so necessary for their normal development. Playing outside and making friends are the building blocks of a healthy childhood.
“Mentally and physically children benefit from playgrounds – making for happy children and happy parents! This winter campaign I’ll be exploring all the challenges parents face and engaging with parents to support the Play Must Stay campaign for playground funding.”