WE ASK THAT PLAY BE EMBEDDED WITHIN THE PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSIONING FRAMEWORK TO MAXIMISE THE HEALTH AND WELLBEING OUTCOMES ASSOCIATED WITH PLAY.
“Physical activity through the presence of green space not only reduces the risk of heart disease (by up to 50%), but also has positive impact on stress, obesity and a general sense of wellbeing” (DHSSPS, 2012, p.22; see also DHSSPS, 2014). In practice play is physical activity. Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride has described play as being “fundamental to our quality of life” highlighting that it is “vital that we encourage and enable play and physical activity from an early age. …Play is a vital component of a child’s physical and mental development. Going out for a family walk in the park, playing sports or kicking a football around, even just trying to reduce the amount of time your child spends sitting down watching TV or playing computer games will make a positive impact on their physical and mental health. Positive mental wellbeing helps a person to maintain good physical health, develop their potential, work productively, build strong relationships, develop a sense of self-worth, and contribute to their community” (Playday, 2015). Policymakers, decision-takers and resource providers can encourage and support active play by:
- Providing timely, straightforward and trustworthy information and advice to professionals and families about how best to enable and facilitate active play.
- Making parents, carers and the wider community aware of the health and wellbeing benefits to be derived from play and playing for children and families.
- Providing clear information and advice to parents on the benefits of play in and around the home and how best to support it.
- Providing stimulating play opportunities that allow children to test; explore and challenge their capabilities whilst enabling them to develop risk management skills, resilience and self-reliance.
- Supporting parents, carers and community groups to encourage children to play more on their streets and in their communities.