Guest article from Play Wales

Let’s take a minute to think back to where we played as children.  Was it dressing up…looking for treasure…rolling down hills… jumpers for goal posts?

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Most adults recall their childhoods as having plenty of time to play with their friends in and around their neighbourhoods.  We tend to remember everyday adventures-opportunities we found and made ourselves and with our siblings, cousins, friends.

Playing has always been and continues to be central to children’s physical, mental, social and emotional health and wellbeing. For children themselves, playing is one of the most important aspects of their lives. They value time, freedom and good places to play. When asked what is important to them, children in Wrexham consistently mention playing and meeting up with their friends.

Wrexham already has a clear vision for improving conditions for children’s play. This encompasses:

  • improving access and the quality of spaces for play
  • parent and professional understanding of play
  • the role decision makers have.

In late 2021, Wrexham Council set itself the challenge to become the ‘capital of play’.  This was part of Wrexham’s bid to be named the UK’s City of Culture 2025.

There is a strong history of play and playwork in Wrexham with a committed playwork network encompassing the three adventure playgrounds and the Council’s play development team.  This playwork network busied itself and collaborated with the UK’s City of Culture steering group to plan a range of playful events for the all-important visit from the City of Culture panel of judges back in May 2022.

Although Bradford was the successful bidder, the inclusion of children’s play as a key feature in Wrexham’s bid should be celebrated and maintained.  Wrexham is rightly proud of what has been achieved to date; however, there is aspirational target of becoming a ‘Capital of Play’.

The aim is to be a county which exemplifies what it is to be truly child-friendly, where children playing in their community is an indicator of such aspirations and Wrexham is a place where all adults understand their responsibility for improving conditions for children’s play.

The places where children play are wide and varied. Play can occur wherever and whenever conditions are right, both indoors and outdoors, in places such as the parks, school, childcare, hospitals.

Likewise, the play workforce is a highly diverse group, most of whom do not require formal qualifications in play to undertake their roles. The range of stakeholders covered by the definition ‘play workforce’ includes those whose role impacts directly or indirectly on the children’s play

This includes those working in education, social services, early years and childcare, health, and youth services.  It also includes those in planning, housing, open spaces, parks, cultural services, environmental services, travel, highways, community development, leisure and sport across statutory services.

We know that playing contributes to the wellbeing and resilience of human beings – particularly young ones. Having welcoming places, enough time and the company of others to play with every day, is of great consequence to all children and young people – as adults we need to foster environments that support this.

About Play Wales

Play Wales is the national charity for children’s play in Wales. All children are entitled to be able to play within their communities and we work to achieve this goal on their behalf, identifying solutions to enable more children to play more everyday.   Play Wales is pleased to be working with Wrexham Council to explore ways it can meet its aspiration to become a ‘capital of play.’

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