The Value of Play

Riverside Play Park

Children’s play is one of those things we take for granted; the importance of it is often overlooked. Play is an invaluable part of a child’s development, and fresh air and exercise an essential part of a child’s physical and emotional growth. Outdoor play areas provide open spaces to fulfill basic childhood needs such as jumping, running, climbing, swinging, racing, hiding and yelling, which is what childhood is all about! Outside play and recreation spaces have also been shown to have a measurable impact on community interaction, new friendships and community safety. Play provision often acts as a focal point for parents and carers to meet, giving them an opportunity to socialise with other adults. If these facilities were to disappear or become neglected it would impact everyone but especially the most deprived areas of our communities where children are more likely to experience health problems and fall behind in development.

Play is not a luxury; play is a necessity. In February of this year the Highland Council had the responsibility of setting its annual budget, the independent group administration had proposed completely axing the budget set for play park maintenance, this would have resulted in many play areas across the Highlands becoming neglected and slowly disappearing altogether. Thankfully the SNP group put forward alternatives to such proposals and this budget was saved. This is a very important issue to me, and since being elected I have worked to bring together a community group with the focus of improving play facilities in Nairn. After a few false starts, I am now confident that we have established the right group of enthusiastic people to tackle this project. I’ve initiated a new task group Nairn PLAY (Preserve Local Areas for Youth) is now a constituted body and registered SCIO, and is currently focusing on breathing new life into the Riverside play park. This site was chosen due to its central location in the town and because it is an area of common-good land that has a lot of potential.

Nairn PLAY has members from many different backgrounds, with many different skills, including one person with experience in project management who’ll be keeping it all on track. The group has already knocked on the doors of the residents in the immediate area to introduce themselves and gain support. A survey has been made up that’ll be put out to the wider area, and to schools, to gain the views of everyone with an interest. In addition, a number of leaflets have already been handed out. Moving forward, Nairn PLAY will be looking to engage with stakeholders, and more importantly, get children involved with the decision process. They, after all, have the most important view in this project. The overall aim is to create an inclusive and accessible park for children of all ages and abilities to enjoy. We are an open group and any input and new members are always welcome.

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