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‘Invest in playgrounds to safeguard children’s health’ – report

Image courtesy of Play England

Investment in the UK’s playgrounds is urgently needed to halt and reverse the alarming decline in their numbers and safeguard children’s mental health, a new parliamentary report argues.

Outdoor play is now more important than ever, says The All-Party Parliamentary Group fFit and Healthy Childhood (APPG), and the recent restrictions on play have highlighted how essential public playgrounds are to children’s health and wellbeing.

‘Help reverse the negative impact of repeated lockdowns’

The report – Covid Generation: A Mental Health Pandemic in the Making – includes the views of more than 40 organisations and academics, one of which was the Association of Play Industries. It calls for a major investment in public, free-to-use play spaces to help reverse the negative impact on children of repeated lockdowns.

Research carried out by the Association of Play Industries showed that spending in recent years on play facilities has fallen by 44 per cent since 2017/18, with 347 playgrounds closed since 2014.

Mark Hardy, Chair of the API Chair, said: “The lack of outdoor play and the amount of time spent alone, inactive and on screens, is fuelling the unprecedented rise in children’s mental health problems.

“Playgrounds are a lifeline to communities. For children in disadvantaged areas and the 1 in 8 UK households without a garden particularly, they are often the only opportunity for free, outdoor play.

“The Government is now presented with a rare opportunity to mitigate the damage to children caused by lockdown and to support their health and wellbeing for generations to come.

“One simple yet powerful public health measure – investment in a national network of sustainable public play spaces – would dramatically improve the lives of millions of children.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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