Next government urged to invest in outdoor play

The Association of Play Industries (API) has released an open letter to the next UK government urging them to support more physical activity levels at school and invest in public playgrounds.

The association and founders of the Pathway To Play campaign have issued an open letter to the next UK Government, highlighting the critical role of outdoor play in combating childhood obesity, poor mental health and sleep problems.

One of the key asks to help increase physical activity levels at school, calling for outdoor learning to be incorporated into the National Curriculum and provide funding for school outdoor play spaces and equipment to boost children's physical activity levels.

In the report, the API said that childhood obesity levels and mental health issues are at "record levels," suggesting this is linked to a significant decrease in children's times spent outdoors.

They added: "Public playgrounds are an essential community resource, and despite the public’s renewed appreciation for them during and after the pandemic, their role in promoting children's health has been undervalued and overlooked by policymakers. 

"It's time to level up the life chances of all UK children by ensuring access to free, local and high-quality playgrounds for all."

Their manifesto emphasises the importance of public outdoor play spaces and outlines three key commitments for the government.

The first is that the government must conduct a national audit of public playgrounds to assess their quantity, quality, and accessibility.

Also, the API also called for the government to allocate dedicated funding for the installation and maintenance of free-to-use community play spaces. 

They said: "The inactivity epidemic among children demands immediate action. Investment in high-quality, free and local playground provision is essential to encourage outdoor play and combat the adverse effects of excessive screen time."

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