More local support to help children play outside is being called for by Play England, part of leading children’s charity the National Children’s Bureau, as a growing body of research shows that children today do not have the same opportunities to play outside as their parents did, and are missing out on everyday childhood experiences.
The research shows that nationally:
> Just 21 per cent of children play outdoors every day near home, compared to 71 per cent of their parents when they were a child.
> Seven out of 10 parents feel that taking their children to an outside space to play is a real treat and children feel the same, with a reported 59 per cent wishing they could play outside in natural places more.
> One third of today’s children say they have never built a den, 32 per cent say they have never climbed a tree and one in ten children have never ridden a bike.
In the South East
> 13.75 per cent of parents said they don’t often play with their children outside.
> 48.11 per cent of children said they would like to play outdoors more often than they currently do.
> 28.11 per cent of children say they’ve never built a den, 17.84per cent have never climbed a tree and 8.11per cent have never ridden a bike.
The government has awarded £2 million through a Big Society Fund to the Play England Free Time Consortium, a group of 17 local and specialist organisations working together to increase children and young people’s opportunities for play and recreation. .
The money will enable the consortium to drive community involvement so that they can help make their neighbourhoods places where children can play outside more often.
Play England director Catherine Prisk said: “Playing outside, chalking on the pavement, climbing trees and riding your bike are simple pleasures that many of today’s children are missing out on.
“Play is essential for children’s health and happiness now, and is also essential for making friends, building key skills for the future and for feeling you are part of a community.
“The Love Outdoor Play Campaign – backed up by real opportunities offered by local organisations across the country – will make it easy for everyone to get involved in making England a place where children once more have the freedom to play outside every day after school and in the holidays.”
The consortium brings together local voluntary sector groups from across England who will offer a range of volunteering opportunities that include street parties, holiday play schemes, helping out on adventure playgrounds, or becoming a trustee.
It is expected to create over 20,000 new volunteering opportunities. There will also be one off opportunities to help build new play spaces – such as making rope swings or digging paddling pools – and for professionals to help their local play organisation with their website or their business plans. In addition there will be special programmes for young people to volunteer in their own communities, and further afield.