We talk a lot about legacy and how it impacts on our ‘everyday’. Of course we all have a legacy. It’s the one that gets our foot to tap when a bit of music comes on, or to jump and head an imaginary ball when the winger puts the cross in. It’s the one that results in lots of rolled up sweetie wrappers round the bin at Christmas. It’s the one that makes it so hard to resist the hopscotch on the pavement.

It is the legacy of PLAY.

When you read this I’m sure that you are already thinking of some more. It feels good to think of them. They remind us of fun. They remind us of long summer days when we went out at the crack of dawn and didn’t come home until tea-time. That’s our play legacy! It’s so powerful that when we think of it – it brings a smile to our face, a little chuckle and a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

There’s been a lot of talk about the legacy of Covid-19. It would be a worthwhile exercise for us all to stop and think for a moment, before we return to normal (whatever that looks like) and list the things that we want to see as part of our new normal. The things that we now see as important, that we didn’t realise until lockdown forced us to stop for a while and re-calibrate.

I’m thinking of birds singing; I’m thinking of exercise; I’m thinking of human acts of kindness; I’m thinking of a sense of community; I’m thinking of the real heroes – in the health service, the retail sector, the politicians, transport, bin men and women and much more; I’m thinking about the value of social contact and family; and I’m thinking about the value of PLAY!

Those of us in the business of play know how important play is for children. A recent Message for Parents from the NI branch of the International Play Association outlined why play is so important to children – especially during the pandemic:

  1. FUN. We all need a bit of FUN at the moment – kids are no different!
  2. FEELINGS. Play provides a really safe way of kids to work through how they FEEL about things, especially emotions such as anxiety, loss, fear, and loss of routine.
  3. FINDING OUT. Play also give kids a chance to FIND OUT about things – to learn about how the world works and make some sense of them!

Play is more than what children do when they have nothing better to do – it is the better thing to do. That has shown itself to be true to everyone during lockdown!

How good would it be that as a legacy of lockdown the ‘new normal’ recognised that play is the important thing, and children were given the TIME, the SPACE and the PERMISSION to play? Where schools recognised the value of play for children to process what they are learning; where councils recognised that every planning decision should be play proofed; where communities realised that the sound of children happy at play made for happy communities; where parents realised that play doesn’t need to be expensive toys or trips to adventure parks, but that the best play of all is simple, child initiated play; and where we all realised that streets can be shared to allow children more space to play.

We all have our own play legacy. How good would it be if, following lockdown, society had one too!

Peter McCartney
Training Coordinator