Half of Northern Ireland children report a lack of time as the main barrier to play.

The survey carried out by PlayBoard NI, the lead organisation for the development and promotion of play, also found that 1 in 3 children and young people don’t have enough places to play, with a third identifying increased traffic outside their house as a problem.

These key issues are standing in the way of children and young people enjoying their free time, as 90% stated that play was important with 84% saying it makes them happy and 82% highlighting the fun they enjoy.

The insights come as the world celebrates the first-ever International Day of Play on 11 June. The day is an opportunity to highlight the positive impact of play on children and young people’s lives, whilst calling upon governments to protect, promote and prioritise opportunities for play.

Welcoming the campaign, PlayBoard CEO Alan Herron said:

“This is a significant moment for children and young people around the world. The child’s right to play is enshrined within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; by designating 11 June as International Day of Play, the UN has placed a much-needed focus on this critical part of children and young people’s lives.”

Alan Herron, PlayBoard CEO; Danny Donnelly MLA, event sponsor; Jacqueline O’Loughin, IPA NI Chair
at our MLA information event on International Day of Play.

As part of the International Day of Play, PlayBoard is delivering an information session for MLAs at Parliament Buildings, focusing on how the Assembly can best deliver improved play opportunities for all children and young people. 

Speaking about what actions are required locally, Alan said:

“In its most recent concluding observation, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child identified a number of key actions for the Northern Ireland Assembly. These included the development of a resourced Play Strategy aimed at increasing play opportunities, greater integration of play within school curricula, increasing access to inclusive play for children with disabilities, and providing safer spaces for play in communities.”

Alan concluded saying:

“PlayBoard’s survey has highlighted the need for action in order to improve access and opportunities for developmentally critical play opportunities. On the International Day of Play, alongside the International Play Association NI, we are calling for wider recognition of the importance of play in children and young people’s lives as well as a commitment to delivering improved play opportunities. The development of a dedicated Play Strategy is a critical step in this process and we strongly urge our political representatives to show leadership on this issue.”  

Families, schools, communities, youth and childcare settings are encouraged to enjoy more time for play on 11 June. To spark conversation, PlayBoard has shared traditional play ideas in its annual Summer of Play Challenge and is also encouraging adults to share their favourite play memories with their children, to inspire them to get out to play.

Read the Children & Young People’s Survey Summary Report.

Read our Manifesto 2024.

What’s your favourite play memory? We asked the decision makers – see how they responded in our new video!