As lead organisation for the development and promotion of children and young people’s play in Northern Ireland we take our advocacy responsibility very seriously.

PlayBoard’s advocacy work is focused around a number of key areas:

Raising Awareness of the Importance of Play

A core part of PlayBoard’s advocacy work is focused around raising awareness of the importance of play to the lives of children, young people, families and communities.PlayBoard are wholly committed to raising the awareness of the importance of play to the lives of children, young people, families and communites. In doing this we focus much of our advocacy work on article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) – often referred to as the right to play.Our aim is to ensure that the implementation of article 31 is at the core of policy making at both central and local government, and that it becomes embedded within the psyche of parents, schools and communities.

We know one of the first questions many of you ask is what is play? We use the definition set out by the UNCRC in General Comment 17 which sees play as:

‘any behaviour, activity or process initiated, controlled and structured by children themselves; it takes place whenever and wherever opportunities arise … play itself is non-compulsory, driven by intrinsic motivation and undertaken for its own sake, rather than as a means to an end. Play involves the exercise of autonomy, physical, mental or emotional activity, and has the potential to take infinite forms either in groups or alone. These forms will change and be adapted throughout the course of childhood.’

‘The key characteristics of play are fun, uncertainty, challenge, flexibility and non-productivity. Together, these factors contribute to the enjoyment it produces and the consequent incentive to continue to play. While play is often considered non-essential, the Committee reaffirms that it is a fundamental and vital dimension of the pleasure of childhood, as well as an essential component of physical, social, cognitive, emotional and spiritual development’

In raising awareness of the importance of play we promote, signpost and disseminate seminal pieces of work developed by ourselves and others including:

All of PlayBoard’s work is underpinned by the Playwork Principles.

Influencing those whose decisions impact on children and young people’s play

By proactively monitoring developments across government we seek to influence the policy development process, working to ensure that the policy arena effectively represents and promotes the right to play for children and young people across Northern Ireland. As part of our influencing work we develop focused campaigns aimed at promoting the right to play generally across society and specifically within direct areas of government delivery. We also support relevant campaigns developed by colleagues from across the children and young people’s sector.We both run campaigns and are supportive of other organisations’ campaigns, which seek to improve children and young people’s play experiences, rights and their lives.

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Responding directly to government on those policy issues that influence children and young people’s play

PlayBoard seek to influence government thinking and policy making by developing responses to relevant departmental consultations.In responding to government consultations we consult with our members, liaise with the wider children and young people’s sector and listen to children and young people to identify those issues which most impact on the right to play, and to determine those issues which require focused lobbying in order to bring them to the attention of policy and decision makers.We actively respond to consultations in order to promote the play agenda and to hold government and other statutory bodies to account regarding their responsibility to listen to the voices of children and young people and to give their views due weight in the policy development process.

Recent consultation responses have included:

For more information contact Laura McQuade (Senior Research Officer).