Children’s facilities can help boost parks’ visitor numbers

Play expert urges more thought on playground provision.

A park with large numbers of children playing in it was likely to be a healthy green space environment enjoyed by all of its users, representatives at GreenSpace’s Parks for Play conference heard last week. Play England policy and research manager Issy Cole-Hamilton said opportunities for free play were becoming restricted, which could have a serious impact on children, families, communities and society. Councils were encouraging people to use their local parks and green spaces, and developing appropriate play areas could help with that. “It’s crucial that those working in the parks and green space sector understand the importance of children’s play.” She said studies showed children wanted to play outside more often and parks and green space managers had a prime opportunity to make as much of a positive impact on that as anyone else. A third of children only played with adult supervision due to the “unknown terror” risks so it was important to improve parks’ safety. Cole-Hamilton said play was vital in children’s daily lives and equally important for their long- term development. She added that when children had played without interruption, it grew into something more complex and socially demanding so thought needed to be given to adults’ role in guiding play.

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