In a time when child obesity continues to grow and we continually hear how government is determined to tackle the problem head on, you would assume that there would be an emphasis on promoting outdoor play for young children, while also providing safe areas for them to participate…wouldn’t you?
Since coming to office the Coalition government have axed 13% of the playgrounds funded by the previous Labour Government, 279 of 2,026.
Fair Play for Children, a charity which promotes the child’s right to play, applied for information into the number of children’s playgrounds provided by the 326 “principal councils” in England. Apart from the axed play areas the statistics also showed that each council provides only one playground for every 692 children!
Jan Cosgrove, National Secretary of Fair Play For Children said, “The Government cannot have it both ways, to say they know the importance of play in children’s development and health, and yet not know the effects of their policies nationwide. Words about childhood obesity and concern for lifestyles cut little ice when it is clear there is a national crisis affecting our children’s basic ability to be able to get out and play.”
Outdoor play is key to reversing the childhood obesity trend we now face. Compare the cost to the NHS for obesity related complications to that saved by cutting playground provision and the coalition’s approach just does not add up. It is a very short sighted approach that will surely cost more in the long run.