Save Childhood Movement Press Release
National Children’s Day UK (NCDUK) Sunday May 17th 2015 – www.nationalchildrensdayuk.com Brains Love Play for National Children’s Day UK!
National Children’s Day UK 2015 (NCDUK2015) wants everyone to celebrate the Science and Magic of Play National Children’s Day UK provides a platform for raising awareness about children’s rights – and adopts a different theme each year in order to engage as many people as possible and to promote the work of organisations already working in the field. NCDUK2015 is all about how important play is for learning and creativity – and for the kind of skills that we need in a 21st century world. Over the last few decades a variety of factors have significantly reduced children’s ability to play, including changes in family structure, a more hurried lifestyle, a more risk-averse society and an increased focus on academic attainment (1).
Through the academic pressures of the educational system, play has also been increasingly undervalued rather than being seen as essential to children’s social skills, creativity and on-going learning (2).
The current state of childhood in the UK is troubling: 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 currently have a diagnosable mental health disorder (3). 1 in 12 children and 1 in 15 young people deliberately self-harm (4). About 35,000 children in England are being prescribed anti-depressants (5). Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years (6). And it is not only child heath and wellbeing that is aversely affected by the increasing exclusion of play from children’s lives. Playful and innovative thinking is essential for a 21st century business world. A 2010 study by IBM of 5000 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) across 60 countries and 33 industries found that creativity was selected as the “most crucial factor for future success” (7). Wendy Ellyatt, CEO of Save Childhood Movement, said:
“Childhood is changing fast. From the impact of screen technology to the restrictions of an increasingly risk-averse culture and the downward pressures of the schooling system, children’s rights and freedoms are being eroded and their opportunities for free play have been drastically reduced. In the lead-up to National Children’s Day UK 2015 we want to remind everyone just how essential play and playfulness is to human creativity and wellbeing.”
Ms Ellyatt continued:
“This is a situation that is having a profound impact, not only on the wellbeing of children, but on the risk-taking, creativity and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking that is so essential in a 21st century world.” The City of Bath has become a strategic partner for the day and will be including it in its four-day Forest of Imagination event. Penny Hay, Director of Research for 5x5x5=creativity and Senior Lecturer in Arts Education at Bath Spa University, commented:
”We want to engage everybody in a conversation about the importance of creativity, imagination and play in all of our lives”
In preparation for NCDUK2015 the movement has launched a “Play Champions’ initiative to identify settings that are examples of great play practice (8) together with three competitions (9). It is also exploring the idea of ‘Play Selfies’ where experts and celebrities are asked to record short videos of themselves talking about why play and playfulness matters so much for both children and adults (10). Everyone is being invited to join in the fun and celebrations on the day to help put play and playfulness back at the centre of creativity.
The conversation about the science and magic of play will continue on social media #NCDUK2015
For more information, please contact
Sandra Lipner, Project Lead, National Children’s Day UK e: firstname.lastname@example.org m: 07866 479 913 www.nationalchildrensdayuk.com
NOTES TO EDITORS
- National Children’s Day UK is an initiative of the Save Childhood Movement – www.savechildhood.net. The movement was established in 2013 and consists of a growing collaboration of individuals and organisations that share a deep concern about societal values and wellbeing and the current erosion of natural childhood.
- The initiative has just received an ‘Awards for All’ Big Lottery grant to help further develop the concept, and is actively looking for national funders and sponsors. The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 we have awarded close to £6bn.The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
- The Day has already attracted many sponsors and supporters including: Learning through Landscapes, Community Playthings, Opal Outdoor Learning and Play, The Land Project, Play Wales, IPA Scotland, Pop-Up Adventure Play, Playing Out, The University of Sheffield Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, Leeds Trinity University, The Wild Network, BEAR nibbles, Earth Wrights, Siren Films, Harry & Jacks, Francis Lincoln Publishers, 5x5x5=creativity and Forest of Imagination.
- The city of Bath will be incorporating NCDUK2015 in their own 4 day Forest of Imagination event with Queens Square becoming a centre for imagination and creativity www.forestofimagination.com
- The day has the backing of many experts in the field, including American psychologists and best selling authors Peter Gray (11) and David Elkind (12) together with Cambridge developmental psychologist Dr David Whitebread (13) and Dr Pam Jarvis (14).
- Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child (Article 31). It is vital for the enjoyment of childhood as well as children’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development.
- The role of informal play-based education has been increasingly downgraded in English educational policymaking. For many children today, nursery education provides their only opportunity for active, creative, play (including outdoor play) which is recognised by psychologists as vital for physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.
- For more evidence on the diminishing role of play please see SCM and Too Much Too Soon websites http://www.savechildhood.net/the-vital-role-of-play.html http://www.toomuchtoosoon.org/play.html
(1) Josie Gleave and Issy Cole-Hamilton, A World without Play Literature Review, Play England, rev. ed. 2012. http://www.playengland.org.uk/media/371031/a-world-without-play-literature-review-2012.pdf
(2) Edward Miller and Joan Almon, Crisis in the Kindergarten, Alliance for Childhood, 2009. http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/kindergarten_report.pdf
(3) Office of National Statistics, Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain, 2004.
(4) The Lancet, Vol. 379 (2012), Issue 9812, pp.236–243.
(5) Chief Medical Officer, At Least 5 a week: Evidence on the Impact of Physical Activity and its Relationship to Health, Department of Health, 2004.
(6) Ed Halliwell, Liz Main and Celia Richardson, Fundamental Facts, Mental Health Foundation, 2007. http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/content/assets/PDF/publications/fundamental_facts_2007.pdf?view=Standard
(7) IBM Global CEO Study, 2012. https://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/31670.wss
(8) Play Champions are settings that demonstrate excellence in play practice where children are encouraged to engage their natural curiosity and creativity without the need for pre-determined outcomes.