National Play Day ’08Playtime Latest

14/07/2008 – National Play Day ’08

Summer is here at last – Irish summer that is! But between the bouts of torrential rain we are suffering this month there was plenty of time to enjoy National Play Day on Sunday July 6th, a celebration children’s love of play.

Unfortunately adult worries about safety, and a lack of understanding of the profound merits of play, can stifle that play instinct a bit. To overcome the various challenges children’s play faces, and support the National Play Policy, a National Play Resource Centre was set up a couple of years ago.

Sadly the Department of Health and Children has decided to discontinue funding the resource centre,  leaving a very worrying gap in play provision. The National Play Policy itself is due for review this year, but little seems to be happening.

In an attempt to put play back on the agenda and build a strong network of play advocates throughout Ireland, Playtime attended a meeting of organisations and individuals with an interest in children’s play. Arising out of that meeting the Play Association was initiated. The Play Association is currently looking at ways to ensure the National Play Resource Centre is re-instated, and that children’s play is given the priority it needs.

Meanwhile, closer to home, a neighbourhood street party was the source of very inspiring play. Traffic – that frustrating inhibitor of so much outdoor play – took second place to the humans dancing on the street. The roads became safe for the children and they gradually spread out, scooting up and down, chalking games onto the tarmacadam, swinging out of ropes hung over street signs and, perhaps a little ironically, playing with little cars on the street. But there’s nothing like filthy murky water to get a great game going, and a mucky puddle at the kerb proved an ideal flood zone to build wood block bridges across – and head off into the sunset in a tiny camper van!

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