Parents can play a significant role in promoting children’s play, acting as ‘play models’ for their children. The Play for Parents programme, an element of the Department of Education’s Play Matters project has aimed to support groups of parents who face more barriers than most in being play models for their children. Parents in prison are one example of this.
PlayBoard NI, alongside NIACRO’s CHIP programme has delivered a number of ‘Promoting Play’ sessions with a group of fathers in Maghaberry Prison, and mothers in Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre and Prison.
The Hydebank sessions finished on Saturday with an opportunity for the mums to lead and join in a playday for their children, following National Playday which is celebrated every August. During the play session one mum fulfilled a longstanding promise to make a kite with her child, and another led a circle game much to the embarrassment but also the pride, of her son and daughter!
The session was a celebration of play, demonstrating how important sharing play experiences are in developing relationships; and it was good fun! Together we developed our play ideas tree that will be displayed on the wall in the visitor centre so children can discover ideas for playing with their mothers during their visit. Each child also received a play record or checklist which they can tick off at home and share with their mum or dad on their next visit.
All children have the right to play. We need to make sure that all parents have the capacity and opportunity to support them to do it.