Every year hundreds of public playgrounds are closing and more closures are planned. New research by the Association of Play Industries (API), a member of the Federation of Sports and Play Associations (FSPA), has revealed that 214 playgrounds have been closed by local authorities, with a further 234 playgrounds earmarked for closure.
The API is calling on the government to halt the alarming decline in playground provision. FSPA Managing Director, Jane Montgomery, says: “The closure of community playgrounds on such a massive scale means that many children will be left without access to any areas for free play and activity.
“Active play is absolutely vital in children’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. We are in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic and growing concern about children’s sedentary lifestyles. It is counterproductive to close facilities which should be playing a key role in tackling these issues.
“Evidence shows that children are more active if they have access to outdoor play facilities. Investment in playgrounds should be a government priority, particularly for deprived communities where obesity rates are highest.
“We understand the pressures on local councils – the research showed a 37% cut in government funding to local authorities – so it is essential that they are supported in protecting their community playgrounds.
“The FSPA welcomes this important and timely research and joins with the API in calling on the government for a clear show of support for play and activity and the benefits it brings to children. A government investment of £100m now could turn the tide and ensure that children in all areas can access good quality areas in which to play.”
The Association of Play Industries (API) www.api-play.org is the lead trade body within the play sector and campaigns at the highest levels for policy recognition for play. Its members are leading manufacturers, installers, designers and distributors of both outdoor and indoor play equipment and safety surfacing. Founded in 1984, the API currently has 65 members.
The API operates under the umbrella of the Federation of Sports and Play Associations (FSPA), the national trade body responsible for representing 13 Associations in the UK’s sport and play industries. www.sportsandplay.com