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Council’s social history project underlines the importance of play

Published: 29/04/2015

The findings of the Council’s in depth social history project - Flintshire Play Memories 1910 – 2014 – have been published, and underline how important play is and always has been for childhood development. The findings also show that children’s play, as a unique set of behaviours, has actually changed very little in the last century, but that there is a perceived trend in the reduction of spaces available to children to play. The project ran from January 2011 until July 2014 and was conducted by the Councils Play Development Team, who gathered and recorded the play memories of Flintshire residents. Over six hundred people from across the county completed questionnaires, and 6,600 individual pieces of information have been analysed. People’s play memories spanned from the 1920s to the present day. From the memories provided by the younger generations, and contrary to what some of the older adults perceived in their responses, children still appear to do the same kinds of things they have always done when playing. Computers, televisions and smart phones aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but, when asked, children still highlight their desire to play in their local neighbourhoods, with their friends, in their spare time. They seek out uncertainty and play in their surrounding environment in a whole host of different ways. The campaign also formed part of a larger regional project by the charity NEW Play, to gather evidence about the changes in children’s ability to play that have occurred within living memory. It also received support from numerous community organisations that form the wider Flintshire Play Network. The findings have now been collated and published by Play Wales (the national charity for childrens play in Wales). The responses included: “How I wish I could spirit my grandchildren back to that time. Life was so simple and there was great pleasure in just being alive. There was no money around, no designer gear, but good and lasting friendships… the best of times, even in wartime.” “Children are not allowed the freedom to explore and play today, by themselves. Everything seems to be structured.” “Obsession with safety! This hinders creativity and doesn’t allow for exploration, cooperation, decision making etc, which is essential in an individual’s development.” “It is not a safe place to let children play too far from home and computer games and TV is playing a large part in their lives.” Councillor Kevin Jones, Cabinet Member for Waste Strategy, Public Protection and Leisure, said: “Within Flintshire, we are committed to providing play opportunities for all children and we would like to thank all those people who made this project such a success – especially our residents who completed the questionnaires. Our findings show that what has changed significantly over the years is the availability of time, space and permission for children to play freely. Reminding adults of their own play experiences as children has also proved to be a useful advocacy tool to support today’s children and their right to have suitable play environments – which is critical for their wellbeing. For more information – and tips on how you can support children to play freely, please visit” For further details, contact Janet Roberts, Flintshire Play Development Officer on 01352 702456 or email