Children should be given more opportunities to enjoy ‘risky play’, according to RoSPA. At a recent RoSPA Play Safety Conference, safety experts, park managers and playground operators emphasised the need for children to experience greater freedom, following a report in The Guardian newspaper earlier this year which revealed that kids are playing outside for an average of just over four hours a week – half that of their parents’ generation.
Children should have regular opportunities to play in natural settings and to learn to manage risk, the experts concluded.
RoSPA Play Safety inspectors have identified six play sites which offer excellent play value to children: Diana Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens, London; Heaton Park, Manchester; Sacrewell Farm, Peterborough; The Children’s Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Town Park, Telford and William’s Den, North Cave.
David Yearley, head of play safety at RoSPA, says: ‘While play and healthy outdoor activity should be encouraged, we should also be mindful of the risks involved. Research indicates that each year in the UK there are roughly 40,000 injuries to children on playgrounds that result in a hospital visit.
‘RoSPA’s long-held view is that playgrounds and play sites should be as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible. This allows room for children to engage in risky play, giving them the opportunity to extend their limits and learn life skills. Success and failure provide children with the motivation to try again and work out different ways of doing things, which is vital for their development.