Kids get the freedom to play

Saturday 3rd September 2022 3:03 am
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Two of the almost 6,000 children that have attended a PlayingOut session this summer. They are pictured playing in Poulsom Park, in Castletown

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Almost 6,000 kids will have been PlayingOut this summer by the time the school bell rings in the start of a new academic year.

The project was the first one launched by Isle of Play when it was established as a charity four years ago.

Over the summer holidays, sessions have taken place twice daily in school playgrounds, parks and glens across the island, with children invited to play, free of charge, and stay as long as long as they like.

The charity’s chief executive, Chris Gregory, told Island Life: ‘The whole initiative is remarkably simple. We turn up at a park, playground or woodland with a van full of rope, karts, bike wheelbarrows, paints and anything else we find along the way and set about turning the area into a much more engaging place for children to play.

‘We’ll build rope swings, water runs, bow and arrows and zip lines; but the real magic is as simple as putting the children together and giving them permission to play.’

Asked what the children get out of the sessions, he said: ‘There’s all sort of health benefits to playing including physical, mental and social, but the kids don’t care about this and why should they. To them, play is done for no other reason than the biological urge to play. It’s one of the things that make play so unique.

‘If it’s done for reward or for a specific outcome like “getting fit” or becoming “more resilient” then it’s probably not play and you’d likely be limiting many of the good things that could happen if it was the real thing.’

He said the only downside this summer had been the hosepipe ban. ‘The weather on the whole has been fantastic and the children have a had a blast,’ Chris said.

‘The only downside was the early introduction of the hosepipe ban meaning waterslides and water fights - which should be a quintessential part of any summer - were kept to a minimum.

‘The project continues to grow in terms of its popularity and we estimate close to 6,000 children will have come and joined us this summer alone.’

PlayingOut is supported by Hartford Homes.

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