Charities and businesses will support a summer of play to aid recovery from the mental and physical impact of the pandemic.
The results of a survey by Save the Children have raised concerns over the wellbeing of children. Over 90% of children surveyed felt that the way they play had changed since the pandemic. They said they are playing outside less with their friends, playing alone more and are less active than they were before the pandemic.
Child development experts have expressed concern about the government’s post-pandemic “catch-up” narrative, warning that it focuses too much on academic catching up rather than prioritising children’s play and opportunities to socialise over the summer holiday.
More than 30 charities and businesses in the UK, along with child development experts, have joined forces to support a summer of play. Among those signed up are the Lego Foundation, Great Ormond Street hospital, the Arsenal Foundation and British Cycling, which will all offer resources to encourage and facilitate children’s play. Organisers are calling on other organisations to get involved and take the #SummerOfPlay pledge.
Companies are being urged to consider what they can offer on a practical level e.g. activities at summer clubs, community events like play streets, or providing access to space for play, providing products or funds to organisations working with children. Those getting involved should amplify the campaign on social media, using #SummerOfPlay and #FunFriendsFreedom.
More information on the initiative can be found here.
Helen Dodd, professor of child psychology at the University of Reading, said: “Play with friends is a central part of childhood. It is intrinsically valuable, bringing fun and joy to children’s lives. It also offers opportunities for learning about negotiation, social skills, emotions and relationships. Amongst all the talk of educational catch-up, it is vital that we don’t forget that children have also missed out on play with their friends, physical activity and fun.”
The Summer of Play campaign is coordinated by Save the Children, Play England, Play Scotland, Play Wales, Playboard Northern Ireland, PlayFirstUK, Playing Out and others.