​Sunday 12 May is National Children’s Day, focusing on the importance of a healthy childhood and the need to protect the rights, freedoms and well-being of children.

The right to play was enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 and clarified in General Comment 17, 24 years later. The General Comment recommended that governments introduce legislation to support children’s play based on the principle of sufficiency – that all children should be given sufficient time and space to exercise these rights.

Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity that is essential to the healthy growth, development and well-being of individuals and communities. Every child needs the time, space and permission to play.

As the lead organisation for the development and promotion of children and young people’s play, the right to play is central to all our work.

Governments have a duty to ensure children have the time, space and permission to play. In 2023, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child highlighted the need for a play strategy as a key priority.

The need for a play strategy for Northern Ireland has never been greater. The resumption of locally accountable government offers a significant opportunity for improving the lives of children and young people through the development and delivery of a Play Strategy for Northern Ireland.

Play is central to the lives of children and young people, and the development of a targeted play strategy would transform the landscape for play, enhancing children and young people’s lives and delivering significant developmental benefits. Such benefits include improved physical health and emotional well-being; improved language, learning and skills development, alongside support for social development and help to build community cohesion.

As we continue our work and engagement with local political representatives to make a play strategy a reality for children and young people across Northern Ireland, lend your voice to support play – sign up for FREE PlayBoard membership.

By becoming a member, you are taking direct action to promote and protect children’s right to play, and strengthening our aim of bringing about positive change for play across Northern Ireland.

Find out more about National Children’s Day at www.nationalchildrensdayuk.com