Play in the media08-11-2017

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Here is a summary of the latest play related articles and blogs to be published online.

Free play and children’s mental health
The Lancet (David Whitebread)

According to a study conducted by Public Health England in 2016, 10 percent of children between five and 16 years old have a clinically significant mental health illness. Children’s charities across the UK are also reporting an increase in the need for their services. David Whitebread reports that multiple studies draw a link between children’s mental health and the amount and quality of free time that children have. Evidence also indicates that free time has changed over the last few generations. These studies show that a lack of play opportunities can have negative consequences on children’s mental health.

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It’s official: muddy kids learn best
The Guardian (Patrick Barkham)

Patrick Barkham looks at the 2017 winner of the country’s best nursery (Nursery World Awards), Dandelion Education, an outdoor nursery and forest school where children are expected to build their own toys with real tools. The columnist’s own children attend the nursery and he also volunteers a day a week. He states the numerous benefits of outdoor early years education for children and how policymakers should make outdoor learning a priority in early years education.

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Here's How Cities Can Get the Most out of Their Parks
City Lab (Teresa Mathew)

Parks and green spaces in the USA often don’t fulfil their potential as being a beneficial part of the public health infrastructure. A new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation, City Parks Alliance, and the Trust for Public Land is offering solutions. After analysing 175 parks in 25 cities across the US they found ways to improve the use of community green area. For parks to fulfil their potential they need better facilities, community targeted programming and more marketing.

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Bringing back an old idea for smart cities – playing on the street

The Conversation (Troy Innocent)

Troy Innocent has developed a mixed-reality mobile game that enables users to play and explore urban areas for Melbourne International Games Week. In this article, he compares digital play to children’s play on the streets in the early 1900s and how play, for adults and children, can create social bonds, connection and a sense of community through shared experiences.

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‘Bang, bang, bang!’: the shock of a boy playing with a gun on a suburban street
The Conversation (Emily Gallagher)

Before the First World War playing on the streets used to be considered a normal part of a child’s life in urban areas in Australia. To the point that children played a central role in the construction of urban space. Post WW1 increased traffic fears meant that this once shared space pushed children’s play out of public view. This article compares our disapproval of children playing with guns (or militarised play) with our general disapproval of children playing on the streets and how it displays adult ownership of children’s play.

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Transforming Schoolyards, Our Most Abundant Public Spaces
Forbes (Ashoka)

Green Schoolyards America’s founder Sharon Danks wants to turn asphalt schoolyards in the USA into green play spaces for children. This could contribute to children’s wellbeing and learning, ecological health and resilience of cities. According to this interview, school grounds are not being used to their full potential. She notes that school grounds should be treated like national parks where children can experience nature in the middle of their neighbourhoods.

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Children 'nearly being born with an iPad in their hand' says Health Minister
Irish Examiner (Joyce Fegan)

According to the Irish Health Minister, Simon Harris, children are ‘nearly being born with an iPad in their hand’. Simon Harris made this statement while speaking at the launch of a new five-year campaign by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Safefood aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of children. Child psychotherapist, Joanna Fortune, agrees with his statement and adds that children aged between three and seven should have no more than 30 minutes of screen time per day and that parents should be aware of their own screen time consumption.

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Why forest kindergartens are the best schooling for our kids
Marketwatch (Linda Åkeson McGurk)

Linda Åkeson McGurk is an American-Swedish freelance journalist and founder of ‘Rain or Shine Mamma’, a blog dedicated to inspiring outdoor play and adventure, regardless of weather. In the article, she lists five reasons why forest (or outdoor) schools are beneficial to nursery aged children in the USA. They include, being more physically active, allowing more time for imaginative play and the ability to become better at judging risk.

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Play sufficiency is a question of spatial justice
Child in the City (Adrian Voce)

Mike Barclay and Ben Tawil of Ludicology discuss the Welsh Play Sufficiency duty and the play approach undertaken in Wrexham in an interview with Adrian Voce. They discuss the main barriers and current challenges to children’s play and how play opportunities are in decline in the UK.

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11 barriers that prevent kids from playing outside
Treehuggers (Katherince Matinko)

The Wild Network has compiled a list of eleven barriers that prevent children from playing outside. By understanding the barriers, according to Katherine Martinko, it makes it easier to overcome them. The difficulty arises when whole communities and educational systems need to change their approach to facilitate children’s outside play time. The barriers are listed in four categories: fear, time, space and technology.

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