Monday 19 August 2019

'It’s time to let kids outside to play on their streets again' - New initiative to get children out from behind their screens

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Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

In 2016 the Early Childhood Convention heard that two thirds of Irish children spend more time indoors than prisoners in maximum security prisons.

Irish children - and adults - spend more time in front of screens than outside.

Yet it’s well documented that access to spontaneous free play, plays an essential role in developing children’s physical, mental and emotional well-being.

A new initiative ‘Playful streets’ has been started by a not-for-profit group to get Irish children to put down their screens and out onto the streets to play with their friends.

Playful Streets is a simple idea to close down a community’s street for a couple of hours to make room for chalk, skipping ropes, balls, bikes and more, and let children back outside, to play on their streets, as they once did.

“Sadly, many children in Ireland are not accessing free play in the outdoors anymore and it can be very detrimental to their well being,” says Neasa Ni Bhriain, Creative Director of A Playful City.

“Playful Streets are meant to be a simple remedy to this issue, allowing communities to view their streets as a place that can be easily reimagined as a place for play. Remember Tip the Can? Red Rover, Red Rover? It’s time to let kids outside to play on their streets again, and, while we are at it, teach the kids the games we used to play!” she added.

"It’s something we all grew up with and took for granted. We can’t wait to help people all over Ireland to bring it back.”

Playful City, together with Change X, have designed a guide to help communities to set up their own ‘Playful Street’ event which they say can be a one-off event or a recurring event.

Vivienne Parry, Head of Advocacy, UNICEF Ireland says: “It shows you in simple steps how to take over your streets, making your neighbourhood a fun, safe and imaginative space for children to play. By creating your own playful street, you’ll not only be fulfilling a child’s right to play, you’ll be building a stronger, more inclusive, child-friendly community.”

Similar projects are running all over the world from the UK to Australia to USA.

Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children said about the project: "It will help people to create a fun space in their locality, allowing children enjoy their right to play, the right to express themselves and the right to develop their talents."

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