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Children First - Play Wales' response 09-06-2017

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In a written statement about children’s zones Carl Sargeant, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children said:

‘In October 2016 I invited organisations to join with me to develop children’s zones in Wales. This is part of my ambition for resilient communities, supporting children and young people in their communities and reducing the inequalities some of them face, in comparison with their peers from more socially advantaged places. This is not a new government programme, but an approach to working collaboratively around a specific place for the benefit of children and young people ...

Following an assessment process we have identified 5 proposals that are ready to proceed as pioneers and these are; Cwm Taf, Gwynedd, Newport, Caerphilly and Carmarthenshire. I believe these 5 pioneers will be able to make rapid progress in establishing a Children First area and provide us with the opportunity to see how the approach works for a range of issues and in different communities across the country...’

Read statement in full

In response to the statement Play Wales says:

Play Wales welcomes the collaborative approach to planning services for children and young people that puts them at the heart of the process outlined in Children First. We strongly advocate that any approach that is truly children centred includes a strong emphasis on children’s right to play, as enshrined in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Time and time again children tell us that having enough time and space for playing and friends to play with is vitally important to them. Every aspect of children’s lives is influenced by their innate need to play, and providing time and space for self-directed and self-determined play increases children’s opportunities to build their own resilience.

The Children First approach that promotes a ‘place’ based way of working can better ensure that provision of sufficient time and space for playing improves outcomes for children and contributes to the sense of wellbeing of communities. Statutory local authority Play Sufficiency Assessments that have already assessed the spatial conditions locally that support playing are well placed to inform local Children First planning.

Through playing children build social networks and create positive attachments to people and places in their community. Playing also contributes to children’s resourcefulness, defined as their ability to navigate to, and draw upon, physical and emotional resources in times of need.

Programmes designed to intervene at an early stage can be useful in minimising some of the damaging impact of adverse experiences and can address the effects of inequalities, especially where they are complemented by a focus on supporting children to be active participants in building their own resilience and resourcefulness.

The types of projects and programmes that might support opportunities for playing and identified in Play Sufficiency Assessments include:

  • Raising the profile of children’s play
  • Projects to improve community safety
  • Staffed play provision
  • Improving school playtimes
  • Street play projects
  • Active travel