26 May 2010

THIS summer, many children and young people will struggle to find a suitable and safe place to spend their free time, said the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today. 

The Commissioner emphasised that the importance of play in a child’s life should not be trivialised.

“Play and leisure time is not a luxury; it is necessity,” said Ms Lewsley.

“Play is vital to a child’s development and can impact on health, well-being and their future lives.

“I recognise the commitment Government has made to play and leisure in Northern Ireland but I want them to make sure all children and young people have access to safe, affordable, accessible and age appropriate play within their communities.

“Children with disabilities, children experiencing poverty, children living in rural areas and children who care for others all need better access to organised sport, drama, art, festivals and events, as well as a range of other activities.”

The Commissioner welcomes efforts Councils have made to provide better play and leisure opportunities but she is concerned that children and young people are not being involved in the process.

“The development of play and leisure plans need to be consistent across a range of issues, like children and young people having a say, everyone under 18 years being considered a child and the kind of concessionary pricing policies used. 

“As part of my Make It Right campaign I hope that children and young people will act now to help make it right when it comes to play and leisure.”