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‘Playing out’ – England’s Children’s Commissioner’s report on play


England’s Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, has published a report, ‘Playing out’ calling on the UK Government, local authorities and parents to help promote play and physical activity for children. 

As part of the report, children were surveyed about their activities during free time and what would encourage them to play outside. The responses show that children spend a significant amount of time in front of screens and often feel that there is a lack of quality, cheap facilities in their local area. 

The Commissioner calls on the UK Government to recognise the importance of play for children’s mental and physical health. It lays out several recommendations, including putting out-of-school activity at the centre of the plan to reduce obesity in England and making children’s play a public health priority. 

The report also recommends that the UK Government’s ‘Sugar Tax’ should be used to ‘to promote play and activity outside of school, along with making healthy meals available to children during these times so that they have the energy and strength to take part.’

Local authorities are advised by the report to think strategically about how to promote play and work with local venues to maximise the use of existing facilities – especially during school holidays. The report also encourages parents to engage in simple activities that keep children active and reducing their screen time with the help of apps that encourage children to be more physically active. 

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