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PLAY


Karen Maxwell talks to the newly-appointed director of Play England about why children’s needs should be at the heart of a community


CATH PRISK


Can you tell me about your career background and your interest in play? I was assistant director to Adrian Voce (former director), we then job shared for six months before I took over as the full-time director of Play England in Sep- tember last year. Prior to this, I was deputy head of two


children’s centres in Hackney and worked for Lifelong Learning UK as policy man- ager. Before that, I spent six years in the


London and the Southwest Regional Development Agencies – looking at skills policies and programmes that brought together different local partnerships to deliver region-wide projects to support people and skills. I also set up the consultation process


that set the priorities for skills that un- derpinned the parameters for the last round of European Social Funding in Lon- don and supported the government in developing the FE workforce strategy for the previous administration. I started my career as a primary school teacher in North Yorkshire.


What’s Play England’s vision for play in this country? Our vision is for England to be a country where everybody can fully enjoy their right to play throughout their childhood and teenage years. We look to work with local, regional and national partners – and families – across England to increase children’s freedom to play, focusing on time, space and opportunities. I’ve always been interested in how dif-


Play is essential for making friends and building children’s skills for the future


ferent groups come together to make a community work and how children are always at the heart. It takes a village to raise a child – an old saying, but it’s as true today as it ever was. Children need to grow up somewhere where they feel safe and secure, where they know their neighbours and have space to roam. It’s not about diving in with loads of money to solve big problems, it’s about


62 Read Sports Management online sportsmanagement.co.uk/digital


getting everyone to work together to help each other. Tackle the little problem of whether your kid can play out on the pavement and you are on your way to building a more child-friendly community.


Can you explain your recent call for community action to help children embrace outdoor play? We want today’s children to have the same opportunities to play outdoors that their parents did. Play is essential for chil- dren’s health and happiness, for making friends, building skills for the future and feeling part of the community. Research shows however, that just 21 per cent of children play outdoors every day com- pared with 71 per cent of their parents when they were young. One third of today’s children say they’ve never built a den, 32 per cent say they have never climbed a tree and one in 10 children has never ridden a bike. As part of the Free Time Consortium,


we’ve been awarded £2m from the Min- istry of Civil Society to get more people involved in creating invaluable oppor- tunities for children to play outside.


Issue 1 2012 © cybertrek 2012


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