Playgrounds are back: Now is the time to prioritise public play provision

“Our message to the Government is: act now to prevent children from becoming the victims of the pandemic aftermath.  Active kids become active adults, so prioritising the future of free-to-all public playgrounds is paramount in preventing obesity and fostering good mental health.’” Mark Hardy, API Chair

The Association of Play Industries (API) has welcomed the statement today from the Prime Minister that playgrounds in England are to be re-opened.  The announcement was made shortly after the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consulted the API for their views on what support and guidance Government could provide for playgrounds to re-open.

“We’re delighted that the Government has listened to our campaign and realised the crucial role that public playgrounds have in our communities,” says API Chair, Mark Hardy. “Millions of children have found the months of lockdown physically and mentally harsh, so now is the time to prioritise children’s outdoor play and activity.

“Local, attractive, safe and challenging community play areas promote activity, healthy lifestyles and wellbeing.   Lockdown has exacerbated the current childhood obesity and mental health crises, so Government must reprioritise these facilities and invest in playgrounds to give all children a fighting chance to live healthy, happy and playful lives.

“Lockdown has highlighted inequality like nothing before and especially so for children.  It is children who have suffered the brunt of the crisis and will continue to do so, unless Government take this as a wake-up call and invest in their wellbeing.

‘Playgrounds that are free, local and accessible to all are a vital public service.  We have seen through lockdown how much they have been missed.  For the 1 in 8 UK households without any outside space they are a lifeline, for millions of others they are an integral part of their daily lives.

“Community playgrounds have been taken for granted. Recent years have seen their numbers slashed with hundreds of communities losing their local playgrounds.   Cash-strapped Local Authorities, forced to make difficult choices, have prioritised other public services over play provision.

“In an urban, densely-populated nation, with a generation of children battling mental health issues, childhood obesity and screen dependency, public playgrounds are not a nice-to-have.  They are essential to public health; parents and children instinctively know this and lockdown has brought the issue sharply into focus.

“Our message to the Government is: act now to prevent children from becoming the victims of the pandemic aftermath.  Active kids become active adults, so prioritising the future of free-to-all public playgrounds is paramount in preventing obesity and fostering good mental health.”

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