All-Party group calls for Government play policy to tackle obesity

The All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood has called for the Government to adopt a holistic strategy to support child development and tackle obesity.

APPG encourages risky play. Image: MorgueFile
APPG encourages risky play. Image: MorgueFile

Its report 'Play', launched on 13 October in Parliament (PDF), calls for the Government to require local authorities to ringfence funding for play within their budgets, address barriers to outdoor play for all children and prepare children and young people's plans including strategies to address obesity.

The report also calls for the promotion of risky, unstructured play without adult supervision, noting such play could involve "rough and tumble, height, speed, playing near potentially dangerous elements such as water, cliffs and exploring alone with the possibility of getting lost".

Such play "gives children a feeling of thrill and excitement and other accompanying benefits", it adds.

The APPG also called for a cabinet minister for children to be appointed to roll out the policy. Group co-chair Baroness Floella Benjamin called on politicians from all parties to acknowledge the vital role of play in children's lives and particularly in helping tackle the physical inactivity crisis.

A number of parliamentary colleagues have agreed to convene a meeting to discuss the APPG's report and recommendations further.

The Association of Play Industries backed up the report's central recommendation for the Government to adopt a holistic strategy to support child development.

Speaking at the report's parliamentary launch, API chair Mark Hardy said: "This comprehensive report covers many aspects of play and play provision but a single unifying message is that children will always play provided they are given the opportunity to do so.

"We must ask ourselves if our children today have the same or better opportunities to play than we did. If they do not, then we must address that. This report makes some strong recommendations which if followed will have a positive impact on creating more opportunities for children to play. High quality public play facilities bring innumerable benefits to local communities that reach far beyond simply providing children with a fun place to play."

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