Let Children Play

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Let Children Play

Charities are calling for children to have more time outdoors as The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) warns of a health crisis among young people. 

Last year, RCPCH published a report discussing the deteriorating levels of oral health, nutrition, respiratory health, mental health, and general well-being of children, particularly in disadvantaged and deprived areas. 

Children and Young people living in the most deprived areas of the country:

  • Are more than twice as likely to be living with obesity, than those living in the least deprived areas.
  • Have 57% higher referral rates to secondary mental health services than those in less deprived areas.
  • ‘Generation Z’ children born into the poorest fifth of families in the UK are 12 times more likely to experience a raft of poor health and educational outcomes by the age of 17.

Claiming that both the recent pandemic and cost-of-living crisis have worsened the situation, the RCPCH is pushing for policy interventions to address child poverty and health inequalities.

More recently, charities such as Playing Out and Save the Children UK have also called for policy work  to emphasise the importance of children being outside and create environments that promote active lifestyles, looking to countries such as Germany, Norway, and Sweden, who already have national policies around having child-friendly cities. Playing Out claims that a lack of outdoor play can be credited to the recent damages in children’s health and wellbeing.

As a social enterprise that specialises in both the mental and physical health of children, we know that staying active and being outdoors has a significant impact on a child’s wellbeing. However, with the added factors of poverty and inequality, it is essential that any policy work to address this crisis should include schools as part of the solution. This enables the benefits to be accessed by children from more disadvantaged backgrounds who need them most.

Our Health Mentoring programmes place an emphasis on children being physically active during the school day. Our Health Mentors often provide opportunities for students to move whilst at school during lunch, break time, and after school. Independent research has shown that this improves children’s focus and engagement in class, as well as their physical and mental wellbeing.

Ultimately, it is clear that getting children outdoors and being active is crucial for their overall health and wellbeing. While charities and organisations like RCPCH are calling for action, it is essential that these initiatives are accessible for all children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Schools are well placed to play a vital role in this. Through partnering with service providers like Evolve, we can make sure that every child has access to opportunities for physical activity and outdoor play.

Read more on this topic: 

Guardian Article: Children suffering due to lack of outdoor play, UK charities warn 

RCPCH Report: Health outcomes continue to worsen for UK children – say leading children’s doctors | RCPCH