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21/06/13 14:00

Playing for keeps

National strategy sets out vision for play for all.

The vital role of play to children’s wellbeing and development has been recognised in Scotland’s first national Play Strategy.

The Scottish Government’s vision for play will improve young lives and is the latest step towards making Scotland the best place to grow up. An action plan will follow this autumn, setting out how the strategy will be implemented.

The strategy – the most progressive of its kind in the UK - recognises that as well as being fun, play is integral to a child’s development and their physical, emotional, social and brain development is linked to it. It is a right enshrined in article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Where play is successful in improving skills and behaviours it has the potential to unlock economic returns in the region of £9 for every £1 invested.

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell said:

“We learn so much from play, it allows us to explore and be inquisitive. It helps us build confidence and interact with others and the wealth of all of this experience stays with us.

“International research has shown time and again that our early experiences have a much greater lasting effect than most of us would assume and that play, as a first step in learning, delivers economic benefits by helping children develop the skills they need for learning. The potential for savings of up to £9 per £1 invested shows our commitment to play is right for children and right for our economy.

“We will publish our action plan in the autumn outlining how we will educate those people regularly working with families to understand how important play is and how we can ensure that play is a daily experience for all children and young people in a way, time and place they choose.”

The Children and Young People’s Bill currently being considered by parliament will ensure that this recognition of play’s importance is felt throughout services for children and families.

It also reaffirms the key messages of the government’s successful PlayTalkRead campaign to encourage parents and carers to play, talk and read more with their babies and young children to help drive home the importance of positive interaction with their children from day one.

Marguerite Hunter Blair, Chief Executive of Play Scotland, said: “Every child needs to play freely in order to grow into a healthy, happy, creative and confident adult and children and young people tell us that they want more time and space to play at home, at school and in the community.

“Scotland’s new National Play Strategy aims to sort this out by increasing awareness and understanding of children’s play needs, and the health, wellbeing and child-development benefits of play. By promoting a wide range of actions that encourage quality play environments and play experiences for all abilities of babes and toddlers through to teens, you can be sure that everyday adventures will follow!”

Notes to editors

Article 31 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

Independent evaluation has shown that the PlayTalkRead (PTR) campaign has been effective in attracting parents to events on the PTR bus and encouraging the interaction between parents and infants though its website and marketing.

Scotland’s ongoing commitment to play can be seen through a variety of funding streams such as Third Sector Early Intervention Fund, the Communities and Families fund and the £3m Go2Play fund which builds on the two most successful elements of the original Go Play fund - the play ranger model and enhanced landscapes for play.

Play Strategy for Scotland – www.scotland.gov.uk/

PlayTalkRead - http://www.playtalkread.org/

Play Scotland – http://www.playscotland.org/