“Get Outside and Play! – National Play Day 7 August 2019

30th July 2019

What if there was a simple, inexpensive and fun way to address some of the major challenges facing our people today? What if it could help improve children’s health, development and well-being? Imagine a solution that could stem the current epidemics of obesity, anxiety and depression affecting our children and youth today. Imagine that this solution could also promote brain health, creativity and academic achievement and prepare our children for the rapidly-changing work force. Along the way it could reduce incidences of allergies, asthma and other immunity challenges and improve eye health. It could enhance neighbourhoods and feelings of community connection. This inexpensive, fix-all, simple intervention is playing outside!

The Fermanagh and Omagh Community Planning Partnership is working together to identify interventions, based on research and evidence that promote play, and in the long term, ensure that “Our people healthy and well, physically, mentally and emotionally” and “Our children have the best start in life”.

This partnership approach to promoting play is essential in tackling some of the major long-term issues affecting our people in Fermanagh and Omagh.

Evidence tells us that “Play Builds Children” and some of the key benefits include;

  • • Play builds Friendships – playing allows children to interact with others, develop relationships and social skills, deal with conflict, and learn respect and tolerance.
  • Play builds Resilience – playing boosts children’s confidence, creativity, problem-solving skills and perseverance, enabling them to cope with stress and challenges throughout life.
  • Play builds Health and Well-being – being active through play helps children physically, intellectually, educationally and emotionally, contributing to their health and happiness.
  • Play builds Communities – playing allows children to learn about the world around them, make connections, and develop a sense of identity and belonging.

Many of us have fond memories of childhoods spent outside, with friends, in our neighbourhoods, parks and wild places, making up the rules as we went along.

Cllr Anne Marie Fitzgerald, Chair of the Community Planning Partnership said,

“We need only reflect on our own play memories to realise how valuable these experiences can be and how they can shape our lifelong health and development.”

Wednesday 7 August is National Play Day, and we urge the citizens of Fermanagh and Omagh to get outside and play. As well as a celebration of children’s right to play, Playday is a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives.

Play is a generic term applied to a wide range of activities and behaviours that are satisfying to the child, creative for the child and freely chosen by the child. Children’s play may or may not involve equipment or have an end product. Children may play on their own and with others and their play may be boisterous and energetic or quiet and contemplative, light-hearted or very serious.

Playing outside is not the same as playing inside. There are unique benefits of playing outdoors, particularly in nature, that don’t come as readily indoors. When children are allowed to play the way they want to play in stimulating environments, they move more, sit less and play longer. Cllr Fitzgerald also commented,

“Here in Fermanagh and Omagh, we are blessed with a wonderful environment which is prime for outdoor play. We have a large number of play parks, 2 ‘Green-Flag’ open spaces, we have trees, hills, mountains, rivers and so many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. So, on Wednesday 7 August 2019, we ask you to make a special effort to play outdoors – hail, rain or shine – and reap the benefits of play.”

For more information on the Fermanagh and Omagh Community Plan, please contact the Community Planning team on 0300 303 1777 (calls charged at local rate). For more information on the benefits of outdoor play and for inspirational play ideas follow Fermanagh and Omagh District Council on facebook and Twitter (@fermanaghomagh), or contact a member of the Community Planning team.