The Children’s Commissioner for England and Play England have published a report examining how local authorities seek children and young people’s views around play and whether these views are listened to in the development of local play strategies.
Fun and Freedom – what children say about play in a sample of play strategy consultations analyses a sample of local authority play strategies. Using a variety of methods to draw out experiences and definitions of play, authorities across the country have captured tens of thousands of children’s views to inform their strategies.
The report found that, for most children, freedom, physical activity and areas, which encourage them to socialise, are crucial elements in good play provision. Opportunities to engage in active outdoor play were the strongest and most consistent messages from the youngsters. The popularity of parks and open spaces was partly dependent on the activities and equipment they contain, but for most of the children being outside in a natural space is important in its own right.
However, barriers to play continue to exist and many children raised concerns about road traffic, bullying, peer-racism, stranger danger, and negative adult attitudes towards them socialising, for example, by erecting ‘no ball games’ signs.
The most commonly identified single barrier to children enjoying play was physical distance. For disabled children in particular, accessibility problems can stop them going out and having fun with their friends and peers.
In Fun and Freedom, Play England and the Children’s Commissioner makes recommendations to local authorities, the government and professionals to help them continue to listen to and act on what children and young people say about play