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, co-chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin and Jim Fitzpatrick MP, 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 in many different settings and should be at the heart of government initiatives to promote their health and wellbeing, overseen by a Cabinet Minister for Children with the power of cross-departmental audit’.
The group added that the report emphasises ‘play as an essential part of the learning process both inside and outside the classroom and home’ and that it also looks at ‘the role of the planning process in making streets and outdoor space playable for children’.
The report calls on ‘the play industry, advertising, the media and national and local government to recognise the contribution that play can make to children’s lives’.
“(promoting) play as part of a whole child strategy should be a key priority for policy-makers at all levels”.
– Helen Clark, lead author of ‘Play’, a report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood
The report’s lead author, former MP, Helen Clark said that it was time for a re-evaluation of play (policy) including new guidance for parents and training for health and education professionals. She also stressed the need for play not to be regarded as an expendable part of childhood:
‘The All Party Group sees play as central to a child’s learning and healthy development. Research has shown that integrating time for play into the school day is essential to develop creativity, promote emotional intelligence and improve academic achievement … There is a worrying trend towards cutting down on break times at school and parents being reluctant to let their children stray away from the garden. It’s time to see play in all its infinite variety as an essential component of child health of mind and body – and also key to combating the scourge of obesity. (Promoting) play as part of a whole child strategy should be a key priority for policy-makers at all levels.’
The full report ‘Play’ by the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood can be downloaded here