The Power of Play
Today (August 1) is National Play Day, and a time to celebrate the importance of play in children’s lives.
The theme of this year’s event is Get out and play! with thousands of children and families being encouraged to do just that and enjoy the benefits free, outdoor play can bring in terms of a child’s happiness and general wellbeing.
I love spending time playing outdoors with my own wee boy as it’s both fun packed and something which is vital to his development.
And enjoying outdoor play is something the whole family can easily do without it costing much – if anything at all. There’s green spaces to enjoy, dens to build, trees to climb, stones, twigs and leaves to create natural pictures with and nature hunts to enjoy – to name just a few simple activities. Playing together outside can also boost creativity and help children assess risks and learn from their experience.
Play is central to how children learn, both in terms of development and skills such as learning to relate to others and their wider environment. It’s also a fundamental part of a child’s quality of life and a right enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It’s also a simple yet hugely effective way to increase physical activity and promote healthy lifestyles. This being something which chimes with the Scottish Government’s Take Life On campaign to highlight the importance of children doing at least 60 minutes activity a day. This is hugely important given research tells us that physical activity is one action we can all take to help prevent the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer later on in life.
As a mum and Scotland’s Children’s Minister, I believe strongly in the power of play. This is something shared across the Scottish Government and we’re increasing play opportunities through initiatives such as our Play Talk Read campaign to encourage parents and carers to play, talk and read more with their babies and young children to aid their development. We’re also working with organisations such as Inspiring Scotland and Grounds for Learning to develop and enhance quality places for children to play such as school play grounds and play parks across the country.
Right now the eyes of the world are on the spectacle of the London 2012 Olympics. What better time for families across Scotland to be inspired, get outdoors and get active. This is one of our key legacy ambitions from these games and of course, from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
I hope as many parents and their wee ones take the opportunity to mark National Play Day by having some good old fashioned outdoor fun together.
Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s Minister for Children and Young People
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