Play is foundational to whole child health. Kids who play every day are healthier, do better in school and have reduced feelings of anxiety. They also learn important social emotional skills (e.g. building blocks to help them later in life) like teamwork, problem solving, cooperation and conflict resolution. Not only that, play offers an ideal opportunity for parents and caregivers of any kind to engage with their kids. Play fosters interaction and builds relationships by allowing parents to glance into their children’s world. Through this, they learn how to communicate more effectively and gain a better understanding of their unique child’s personality.
Despite all these benefits, we know that kids across the country and in New York are not receiving the benefits of play at home or at school. A national study on outdoor play revealed 85% of mothers agreed that their children play less often than children did a few years ago. Barriers of traffic safety and neighborhood safety deter parents from letting their kids go outside, while the rise of video games, tablets and TV time have taken over at home. In schools, standardized testing and increased focus on academic standards have led school districts to remove recess and play based learning from the schedule.
The Healthi Kids Coalition believes in the POWER of PLAY. Our advocacy agenda brings back the importance of play for whole child health and moves to advance solutions in schools and neighborhoods that safeguard play. We do this by advocating for change that:
- Invest in safe, accessible infrastructure that supports every child’s right to play in school and in their neighborhood.
- Promote playful neighborhoods by advocating for youth and resident driven play initiatives in communities across the region.
- Ensure that every child has access to unstructured play opportunities in early childcare settings and at school.
- Safeguard play as a cornerstone of school learning for pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade.