More than 30 leading organisations from across the UK are joining forces to invite businesses, charities and the Government to take a #SummerOfPlay pledge and ensure all children get the opportunity to play this summer so as to repair some of the mental and physical damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Summer of Play campaign, co-ordinated by Playfirst UK, Save the Children, Play England, Play Scotland, Play Wales, Playboard Northern Ireland and others, is appealing for a major national effort to get children playing in order to bolster wellbeing and reduce the risk of any long-term impact on children’s development as a result of recent lockdowns.
The call comes as new research conducted by us on behalf of Save the Children reveals that 92% of children say the way they play has changed since the pandemic hit.
Over half (51%) of children say they are playing outside and with friends less than before the pandemic, while a third (34%) of children said they play alone more than they used to. Almost a quarter (23%) of children revealed they’re playing less sport and being less active than they used to be.
Dan Paskins, director of UK impact at Save the Children said: “Children across the UK and around the world have missed out on so much over the past year. Creating more opportunities for children to play is crucial for making up for some of that missed fun and helping to support their health and wellbeing as we emerge from the pandemic.
“We also know that for people living in poverty, accessing safe places to play can be even harder. We want to focus on creating more opportunities for children from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds who have been disporpoprtionately impaced by the pandemic.”
The Summer of Play campaign has already won the backing of dozens of eminent organisations - including the Arsenal Foundation, the Lego Foundation, Great Ormond Street Hospital and British Cycling - who are committed to ensuring that as many children as possible across the UK, particularly those from deprived or marginalised communities, can access fun and safe opportunities to play this summer as Covid restrictions lift.
Pete Maginn, Director of Insight at Beano Brain said: “Since the schools first shut in March 2020 we’ve been tracking the behaviours and sentiment of over 3 million kids 7-14 to hear first hand how their lives have changed. The inability to see friends in person has constantly been their biggest concern and our latest research reveals that even now despite restrictions easing they are still not enjoying the play freedom they had before the pandemic.
Our latest research reveals that half of UK kids (52%) themselves want to use this summer to get outside and play with their friends as freely as possible. Of course their schooling has been disrupted this year but that is nothing compared to the wider social, physical and emotional impact on their lives and social play is the perfect way to help remedy that.”
The Summer of Play campaign is asking organisations to pledge their support at www.summerofplay.co.uk