Our Voices Matter

Children and young people in Northern Ireland have been significantly affected by the restrictions associated with lockdown, with their natural desire to play curbed, potentially impacting their long-term health, wellbeing and development, according to new research published by PlayBoard NI, the lead agency for play in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year, PlayBoard surveyed children and young people ranging in age from five to 18 years, from across Northern Ireland about their experiences during lockdown, with a focus on play and education.

Welcoming the report, PlayBoard Chief Executive Jacqueline O’Loughlin said, “The Our Voices Matter survey captured the thoughts and feelings of children and young people, confirming that the restrictions placed on society have had a negative impact on their play, education and wellbeing. It is fitting that we are sharing our report on World Children’s Day, a day dedicated to the celebration of children’s rights, when our findings tell us that their right to play has been seriously diminished over the past few months.”

During lockdown, the type of play children were able to engage in changed. Being active through play dropped from 53.2% to 31.4%, participation in social play dropped dramatically from 58.9% to 5%, and technology-based play increased from 33.9% to 55.7%.

Dr Victoria Simms, Ulster University, who provided consultant support commented, “Play is fundamental for the healthy development of children and young people. The Covid-19 restrictions dramatically changed the way children play, interact and engage in physical activity. Children reported a mixture of experiences, from feeling isolated and sad to feeling creative and enjoying quality time with their families. Children in this study showed great insight and understanding of these changes and why they occurred. However, as we move through, and emerge from, this global pandemic we must prioritise children’s right to play and their education. If we fail to do so we ultimately let down a generation of children who really deserve our respect and support.”

Read more and the summary report at the link HERE  #WorldChildrensDay