New Playgrounds Are On The Way
We’re often told about the growing obesity epidemic in Ireland, and how physical activity needs to be encouraged. But this doesn’t mean that we need our children pumping iron just yet, as there are plenty of fun ways to stay active; including a good old trip to the playground.
That’s why it’s great news that a €250,000 investment has been announced today, that will improve outdoor play spaces; and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, has announced that 22 local authorities across the country will benefit from the funding.
Early Childhood Ireland advises that children spend as much time as practical outdoors; which can lower obesity, promote physical and mental wellbeing, and encourage children to interact with their surroundings, and each other. The best advice is that children under five should aim for three hours of physical activity every day.
Worryingly, the 'Growing Up in Ireland' study found that on average, 42% of five-year-olds spend more than two hours in front of a screen on weekdays, and 25% of three-year-olds were overweight.
"The benefits of outdoor play are multi-faceted. They span the entire range of a child’s development: Physical, mental, sensory and social. Outdoors, children’s senses are naturally stimulated and play spaces provide opportunities for new experiences which are unavailable inside … The more open-air, free to access recreational spaces available to children the better." - Teresa Heeney, Early Childhood Ireland CEO
Early Childhood Ireland is encouraging local authorities to include natural materials in their play areas, such as sand, clay, and wood; which stimulate imagination and help to develop their problem solving skills, while also being sustainable and environmentally friendly. We don’t yet know when these new playgrounds will be ready for use; but let’s make the most of them, and help to keep our kids active in whatever ways possible.
So grab yourself a coffee, and we’ll see you on the swings.
Early Childhood Ireland represents over 3,600 childcare members who support children and families through preschool, afterschool and full day-care provision nationwide. Its work includes quality enhancement, advocacy, training, business support and information.
Where are your favourite playgrounds (unless you want to keep them a secret!) For more tips on how to stay active, check out Family Exercise Ideas.