Children have a right to playPlaytime Latest

10/07/2010 – Children have a right to play

“Children love to play, for developmental purposes they need to play, and under the UN Convention on the rights of the child, children have a right to play” – this is the message we were involved in publicizing on National Play Day, July 4th 2010.  Valuing play as a source of pleasure, as a need, and as a right, is fundamental to the purpose of Playtime. Playtime, working with The Play Alliance, an umbrella group of organisations concerned with children’s play,  issued a press statement urging the government to acknowledge the importance of play in children’s lives and to take immediate action on play provision in Ireland.

The statement called on the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth “to draw up a new National Play Policy to replace the current National Play Policy ‘Ready, Steady, Play’ which has been redundant since 2008. A new policy is urgently needed in order to ensure that children have equal access to an excellent standard of play opportunities throughout the country. Any new policy must be supported by sufficient funding, initiatives and a genuine commitment to implementation nationwide”. 

While both Playtime and The Play Alliance recognise that there has been a certain amount of investment in playgrounds around the country, there is a pressing need for concrete recognition of the fact that children play everywhere and as such both urban and rural environments must be planned and designed to support children’s play.

This is an era of difficult financial cut backs and the closure of The National Play Resource Centre was a serious blow to promoting children’s play needs. But providing for children’s play need not cost the earth. Re-visiting and updating the national play policy is a simple cost effective measure. Meanwhile making play friendly rural and urban environments is something we can all contribute to. Children are highly imaginative and creative. Time, space, and permission to manipulate the resources in their local environment can offer children wonderful play opportunities. Simple traffic calming measures such as the introduction of the 30Km speed limit in parts of Dublin’s city centre make the street a fun place to socialise and play.  Alternatively, ascribing to the theory of mental speed bumps and bringing the kitchen chairs outside to share a cup of tea with the neighbours creates a presence and sense of a place where children can play safely.

As adults we need to understand the value of play, to allow children that special freedom and to slow down and give them the time and the space they need.

Special thanks to Greg Dunn for use of the above photograph.