Youth organisation Woodcraft Folk’s CEO, Debs McCahon, joined academics and other play organisations to discuss the importance of play at the most recent meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit & Healthy Childhood.
The Group, chaired by Steve McCabe MP hosted presentations by Professor Vivian Hill, BPS, Professor Paul Ramchandani, Dr Christine O’Farrelly of PEDAL and Michael Follett, OPAL. The key speakers shared research on the importance of play in developing resilience, communication skills and supporting children to learn to work together.
Play, particularly outdoor play, is a key component of Woodcraft Folk – giving children and young people opportunities to be physical or quiet, to be creative, to engage with their peers and have fun. For more than 30 years Woodcraft Folk has taken Play Out to the urban spaces – a drop-in play provision. Woodcraft Folk has plans to support Play Out activities in London this summer through the Reignite project and the Champions for Children scheme.
The Group was attended by those passionate about providing inclusive play, but they heard about the negative impact of the pandemic, which through restrictions on children’s play, had impacted children’s mental health. The group also discussed the culture of removing play as a sanction for unwanted behaviour within the education system and how this can be detrimental to managing behaviour.
The group were all in agreement that children’s mental health was improved by opportunities to play and celebrated the many organisations who demonstrate good practice in play, exploration and risk taking.
During the meeting there was a call for more unstructured and outdoor play, such as that delivered by Woodcraft Folk groups across the U.K. During the meeting it was also acknowledged the important contribution residential experiences make in developing children’s resilience, life skills and confidence. The Group called for a Summer Camp Collective to provide more children with outdoor adventures. Woodcraft Folk’s CEO will be taking further action on this point.
A recording of the session is available here.
You can find out more about Woodcraft Folk here