Council launches policy to protect children and young people's right to play.
A policy that promotes children and young people’s access to the widest possible range of play opportunities in East Lothian’s natural built and natural environment is the key aim of a newly-launched policy.
Play is absolutely vital to children’s health and wellbeing – it’s an important part of a happy childhood. There are obvious physical benefits to play, but the educational benefits are immeasurable too. Children learn about the world around them through play: they experiment with new ideas, roles and experiences, and develop problem solving skills.
Liz Humphrys, Childcare Development Officer
At an event at Elphinstone Primary School last week, the Education department and Play Policy Steering Group launched the East Lothian Play Policy 2017-2020 with a screening of Choose Play! East Lothian, a film produced by East Lothian Play Association and Raw Film Productions, funded by Play Scotland.
This is the council’s first policy on play, and follows the publication of the Scottish Government’s National Play Policy for Scotland which tasked local authorities to develop Play Policies. It follows three consultations entitled Have Your Say on Play that took place with children, young people and adults living in East Lothian and to which more than 900 responses were received. These responses were used as the foundation for the policy, along with the National Play Strategy and Action Plan.
The council and its partners are now working on an action plan to implement the priorities set out in the Play Policy. These priorities include identifying a ‘Play Champion’ who, together with a council-wide strategic working group, will promote the voice of children and young people in decisions that affect play and recreation. Other actions will develop guidance and training opportunities for adults working with children and young people, to increase their understanding of the importance of play, including adventurous play, with an emphasis on inclusion and equality.
Liz Humphrys, Childcare Development Officer, said:
“Play is absolutely vital to children’s health and wellbeing – it’s an important part of a happy childhood. There are obvious physical benefits to play, but the educational benefits are immeasurable too. Children learn about the world around them through play: they experiment with new ideas, roles and experiences, and develop problem solving skills. Play is also important for children to learn how to exercise judgement, evaluate risk and develop their confidence.”
Fiona Robertson, Head of Education at East Lothian Council, said:
“The East Lothian Play Policy recognises that all children and young people have a right to play; that children and young people will be listened to and that their views on play and free-time will be taken into account; and asks adults to positively promote and support this right to play. This play policy is a really positive framework that will require the council working in partnership with other agencies and organisations to encourage the provision of play facilities and opportunities so that no child in our community misses out.”
Shamin Akhtar, Cabinet Spokesperson for Education and Children’s Services, said:
“Firstly, I want to thank everyone who took part in the consultations, their input and ideas have been really valuable. Their feedback showed that while there are lots of fantastic and valued places in East Lothian to play, they may be not suitable for everyone or they may be hard to get to. We need to increase and improve access to outdoor spaces, as well as ensure that those children with additional support needs also have access to high quality, accessible and inclusive play opportunities. It is really exciting that we now have a clear policy on play, so that the council and all its partners can work together to achieve this. We are all absolutely committed to ensuring that East Lothian’s children have the best start in life. By recognising that children need space, time and opportunity to play, and that it is essential to their health, wellbeing and development, we are helping them to achieve their full potential.”