MumsNet backs #Nowhere2Play Campaign
Playgrounds are an important part of the lives of children. They provide a place where their boundless energy can be expelled through socialising and fun, healthy activity. Experts have found that engaging in regular play activities is vital for both the mental and physical wellbeing of our youngsters. With this is mind, it goes without saying that more playgrounds should be made available for children to enjoy, and protected at all means.
The Association of Play Industries’ Findings
Sadly, local authorities across the country have been closing down children’s playgrounds, instead of improving and regenerating them. The Association of Play Industries, who represent manufacturers, installers and designers, uncovered that playgrounds are being demolished at a shocking rate. Between 2014/15 and 2015/16, local authorities around England closed down 214 children’s playgrounds. To add to the damage, when asked about their future plans, the councils admitted that their aim was to close a further 234 playgrounds in the future. According to playground authorities, the reason for these playground closures was due to budget cuts, meaning that they were unable to maintain, repair or replace equipment.
There is no longer funding for playgrounds from central government or grants from third sector institutions such as the big lottery fund. This means that the provision and upkeep of play spaces falls unduly on local authorities, whose budgets are also reducing. In response to these findings, the Association of Play Industries began the ‘Nowhere to Play’ campaign and launched the hashtag #Nowhere2Play to help raise awareness and protect families from the impacts of further playground closures. The Association of Play Industries demand that the playgrounds that faced closure are replaced and that the government invest a further £100 million to increase the number of play facilities around the country and help to reduce the growing problem of childhood obesity.
Mumsnet joins the Fight
The Nowhere to Play campaign and the shocking findings of the Association of Play Industries have since gained a lot of media attention. Most recently, Mumsnet, a website that campaigns on issues affecting parents, joined the fight. The site launched #Nowhere2Play as one of their guest campaigns and called on the government to recognise the vital role of public playgrounds. The site reminded parents that active play is vital for children’s development, and that children in deprived areas are suffering a lot more from the closures, since playgrounds provide their only chance for active play a lot of the time.
In addition to physical health impact, the shutting down of playgrounds can affect the mental wellbeing of children. Since play is important for emotional and social development of children and their cognitive skill development, shutting down playgrounds can deprive children of these vital experiences. Thus, closing playgrounds will affect children mentally and physically. What is more dangerous, according to the API, is that many of the playgrounds are being shut down in areas where less affluent people live. According to the API, between 2014 and 2016, more than 400 playgrounds were closed across the country.
More playgrounds have been notified for closure. In addition to enumerating the closed playgrounds, the API has also asked parents to report instances of closed playgrounds near them. Communities are also being asked to get involved in the issue. The Association of Play Industries feels that with more data about playground closures, it can highlight the importance of playgrounds and the negative impact of closures. Parents and communities do not have to wait for playgrounds to close to report them. If authorities have notified a playground for closure, parents can report it to the API. More involvement from concerned people is bound to help search for solutions.