The Government’s decision to reopen local playgrounds from 4 July will come as a huge relief to the one in eight UK households with children, which lack any outdoor space of their own.
The API had has waged a campaign throughout lockdown to get them re-opened and written an open letter to the Prime Minister, flagging up its study which showed how playgrounds could alleviate the impact on children.
API chair, Mark Hardy, said: ‘Millions of children have found the months of lockdown physically and mentally harsh, so now is the time to prioritise children’s outdoor play and activity.
‘Local, attractive, safe and challenging community play areas promote activity, healthy lifestyles and wellbeing. Lockdown has exacerbated the current childhood obesity and mental health crises, so Government must reprioritise these facilities and invest in playgrounds to give all children a fighting chance to live healthy, happy and playful lives.
‘Lockdown has highlighted inequality like nothing before and especially so for children. It is children who have suffered the brunt of the crisis and will continue to do so, unless Government take this as a wake-up call and invest in their well-being.
‘Playgrounds that are free, local and accessible to all are a vital public service. We have seen through lockdown how much they have been missed. For the one in eight UK households without any outside space they are a lifeline, for millions of others they are an integral part of their daily lives.’
In recent years their numbers have been slashed with hundreds of communities losing their local playgrounds. Cash-strapped Local Authorities, forced to make difficult choices, have prioritised other public services over play provision.
Hardy adds: ‘Our message to the Government is: act now to prevent children from becoming the victims of the pandemic aftermath. Active kids become active adults, so prioritising the future of free-to-all public playgrounds is paramount in preventing obesity and fostering good mental health.’