The Children’s Centre is organising a conference next month about outdoor play which will look at why it is important, and what we can all do to make the Isle of Man a better place for children to play in and grow up. The conference comes just a few months after The Children’s Centre carried out research which suggested that there is a need to encourage children to play outdoors more often.
Speakers and workshop leaders at the conference are Tim Gill, one of the UK’s leading thinkers on childhood; Stuart Lester, Head lecturer in Play and Playwork from the University of Gloucestershire who is a leading play and playwork theorist, researcher and author; Ben Tawil, Senior Lecturer Childhood and Family Studies at Glyndwr University; and Chris Gregory, Play Development Officer at The Children’s Centre. Chris Gregory commented: “Children’s outdoor play is on the decline and this is a terrible thing. As adults we are often guilty of perceiving play as a childish pursuit with little or no purpose, the conference is going to help address such misconceptions and demonstrate just how import children’s play is to their development. The conference will take a fresh look at fears over health and safety and introduce new and more appropriate ways of measuring and managing risk than standard risk assessments. Finally, we will be looking at the child’s ‘Right to Play’ and how embracing article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of The Child can make the Isle of Man an even better place for our children to grow and flourish.”
The conference is at the Laxey Glen Pavilion and will take place on Friday October 4 and then repeated on Saturday October 5. Booking is essential as places will be limited on both days. Anyone who wants to find out more about the conference – or book a place – should contact Chris Gregory by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 676076.
In The Children’s Centre’s outdoor play survey, children and parents answered questions about the amount of time children spend playing outside, their thoughts and opinions about outdoor play, how attitudes towards outdoor play have changed over the years, and what – if anything – prevents today’s generation of children from playing outdoors as much as they would like to. More than 3,000 parents and children took part in the survey, here are some of the key findings:
- Most parents (90%) who took part in the survey said that they played outside more when they were young than their children do now.
- A majority of parents (90%) also thought that there had been a decline in ‘community spirit’ when comparing today with their own childhood years.
- When parents were asked what would give their children more opportunities to play outdoors the top three replies were more places to play, more age appropriate places to play, and traffic calming measures.
- When asked to give reasons why they didn’t play outside as often as they would like, 18% of children who took part in the survey listed not having anywhere to play as the main reason, and 15% said it was because their parents would not allow them to play outside. Only 10.7% said that nothing stopped them playing outdoors.
- A majority of children (70%) said that given the choice they would prefer to play outdoors than indoors. A majority (73%) also said that they would prefer to play outside rather than stay indoors playing computer games or watching TV.
The movie ‘Project Wild Thing’ – which is about film-maker David Bond’s attempts to get his children to spend less time watching TV and playing video games, and more time outdoors – will be shown at the conference on both days. A trailer for the movie can be viewed on www.manxtube.com – just search for ‘Project Wild Thing’.
A detailed summary of the survey can be found at www.thechildrenscentre.org.im