East Lothian Play Association (ELPA) has presented its first School Staff Play Champion award to Morag Waterston.

Morag's enthusiasm and passion for play shines through everything she does

Morag, who is Senior Early Years Practitioner at Yester Primary School, received the award at the Association’s AGM.

Play is vital to children’s emotional and physical health and wellbeing, contributing to all aspects of learning and laying the foundation for an active lifestyle. ELPA’s play champion awards recognises school staff’s important role in creating fulfilling opportunities for children to play, learn and develop.

ELPA Chair Theresa Casey said: “‘Morag’s creative ideas and positivity buoyed and sustained the importance of play. Feedback from everyone - other staff, parents and most importantly the children - was incredibly positive. Parents were telling us their children were playing more at home with loose parts rather than technology. Morag's enthusiasm and passion for play shines through everything she does; she is the embodiment of what we are trying to achieve with our projects.’

Morag joined Yester Primary School in 2016. She leads the school’s morning and afternoon nursery classes alongside nursery assistant Mrs McWilliams. She also works with the school’s ‘Play Champions’, a group of primary 4 pupils who create opportunities and focus for play across the school. Examples include a ‘cardboard day’ where classes across the school worked together in their lunchtime on a mini building challenge.

East Lothian Council’s Play Champion, Lesley Brown, said: “This is well-deserved recognition for Morag and great for all the children that she works with at Yester Primary School. The importance of play for children’s development is widely recognised, including by the UN. Our play policy has been embedded across East Lothian to make sure that we create supportive, engaging and inclusive opportunities so that all children can play. I’m delighted to see the success of the activities, including Loose Parts play, in schools and commend all those who work in this important area.”

Morag Waterston commented: “I’m really proud to have achieved the first School Staff Play Champion Award. It’s really rewarding to see the excitement and fun that the kids have. They are so engaged, working together to solve problems and make their own creations. It’s about bringing play alive for them.”

Play is enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Convention of the Rights of the Child, with the committee noting ‘play 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.’

Published: Monday, 24th December 2018