Why are playgrounds important in a child’s life?

April 18, 2017 Published by

We were shocked to hear from the Association of Play Industries that, 214 playgrounds have been closed across the UK since 2014, with a further 234 playgrounds scheduled to be. The main reason behind the closure of so many playgrounds is due to; lack of budgets from local authorities, outdated playground equipment and because of this the areas are being vandalised. If all of these playgrounds are shutting down, where will you take your children when they are gone?

What happens if children don’t take advantage of outdoor play?

Children thrive from outdoor play spaces; it is a key factor to a child’s happiness and wellbeing. Without this space to ‘escape’ the effects on their physical and mental health can be damaging. Removing playground spaces decreases opportunities for physical exercise and increases the likelihood of child obesity. Play Pathfinders found that between 1995 and 2003, the percentage of children between 2 and 10 who were overweight and obese rose from 22.7 per cent to 27.7 per cent.

Outdoor play is essential for a healthy lifestyle, however over the last decade the use of technology devices has seen an increase and physical activity decrease. These days more children can manoeuvre around a tablet (59 per cent) than swim (53 per cent) and in the past 30 years a child’s roaming distance (how far the child plays from home) has decreased by 90 per cent.

Why should we be trying to save playgrounds instead of removing them?

Outdoor play areas can benefit children of all ages, children with disabilities and especially children in urban areas. Living in built up neighbourhoods that are close to work is convenient for parents, but this doesn’t mean the same for the young ones. If anything families in urban areas are the ones most in need of community playgrounds, without these facilities children cant develop the necessary mental, physical and social skills. Which consecutively leads to increase rates of sedentary leading into adulthood, obesity, alienation and antisocial behaviour in children.

What are the benefits to outdoor play?

  • builds friendships
  • Increases interaction and tolerance
  • encourages exploration
  • boosts confidence level
  • reduces stress related issues such as anxiety and depression
  • increasing opportunities for social interaction and development

Not only do playgrounds improve the wellbeing of children of all ages it especially helps children with special needs as well. Families that have children with disabilities may not have access to playgrounds due to poorly constructed footpaths, insufficient space for seating or even accessible play areas. Not only does improving playgrounds help special needs children, but it also joins the community together creating a safer space for children to feel free to roam.

How can your local playground be improved, for children with additional needs?

Research shows that 16 per cent of parents of a child with a disability rated the playground as ‘good’. To improve playgrounds for children with disabilities, here are some idea that might make life easier for the children and the parents:

  • toilets with disabled access
  • notices in Braille, widget or pictorial form.
  • paths wide and smooth for wheelchair access.
  • wheelchair friendly play tables
  • accessible tactile panels
  • wheelchair accessible roundabouts
  • wider slides
  • area to rest somewhere in the shade

Playgrounds can be fun for parents too, socialising with other parents, and friends while enjoying the sunshine. Playgrounds aren’t just for the children, they are fun for all.

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This post was written by Fundamentally Children

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