Reverse the alarming decline of playgrounds, says report

A new Parliamentary Committee report has called for investment in the UK’s playgrounds to halt and reverse the alarming decline in their numbers and safeguard children’s mental health.

The APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood has published the Covid Generation: A Mental Health Pandemic in the Making paper calling for a major investment in public, free-to-use play spaces to help reverse the negative impact on children of repeated lockdowns.

Research carried out by the Association of Play Industries showed that spending in recent years on play facilities has fallen by 44 per cent since 2017/18, with 347 playgrounds closed since 2014.

Mark Hardy, chair of the API, says: “The lack of outdoor play and the amount of time spent alone, inactive and on screens, is fuelling the unprecedented rise in children’s mental health problems. Playgrounds are a lifeline to communities. For children in disadvantaged areas and the one in eight UK households without a garden particularly, they are often the only opportunity for free, outdoor play.

“The government is now presented with a rare opportunity to mitigate the damage to children caused by lockdown and to support their health and wellbeing for generations to come. One simple yet powerful public health measure – investment in a national network of sustainable public play spaces – would dramatically improve the lives of millions of children.”

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