Lord Mayor Supports National Play Day

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl, has helped to launch the lead up to National Play Day on 04 August.

This year's National Play Day theme is 'Summer of Play', celebrating children's right to play following a difficult 18 months of restrictions caused by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Statistics show that lockdowns saw active play drop from 53.2% to 31.4% across Belfast. Social play dropped from 58.9% to 31.4% and there was an increase in the use of technology-based play from 33% to 55%.

With restrictions easing and the summer weather setting in, children have returned to active outdoor play once again.

Belfast's first citizen is encouraging young and old to join in the fun on National Play Day. Councillor Nicholl said: "Play is so important for the development of our children and young people. It builds confidence and social skills and is just a great way to allow children to have fun and express themselves.

"The pandemic has challenged us all but this National Play Day I'm encouraging everyone to get out and celebrate a Summer of Play. I love nothing more than being in the garden with my little boy, sharing adventures and watching him grow and develop through play."
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She added: "Play is a great way for families to build bonds and to enjoy each other's company. So whether it's kicking a football, climbing trees or doing arts and crafts, let's all get out and play this national play day."

Belfast City Council is supporting National Play Day this year by encouraging young people to get creative. On Wednesday 4 August, boxes of chalk will be placed in playgrounds and parks across the city, allowing children to explore their creative side and add some colour to open spaces.

Chief Executive of PlayBoard NI, Jacqueline O'Loughlin, said: "Children need a Summer of Play – this year more than ever. Children and young people have faced significant challenges due to the pandemic and it is vital that they enjoy time to play, to relax and to spend time with their friends having fun. 

"At PlayBoard, we have joined organisations across the UK and Ireland highlighting the importance of focusing on play this summer, creating opportunities for children to socialise, build relationships and enjoy some freedom. Playing is fun, it's what children do naturally, but it is also crucial to their well-being and will help towards recovery from the difficulties faced over the past year."

She added: "We encourage families, communities and organisations to get involved in the Summer of Play and especially on Playday, when we celebrate every child's right to play."

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