Helen Woolley launches play report with Baroness Floella Benjamin

Helen Woolley (left) with Baroness Floella Benjamin at the launch of the report

Helen Woolley attended the House of Commons on Wednesday 14th October for the launch of a report on children’s play.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, which is chaired by Baroness Benjamin, produced the report to highlight the importance of children’s play in the United Kingdom and its impact on both health and wellbeing and the obesity epidemic.

The report highlighted the need for children to engage in outdoor or ‘risky’ play and showed how this is often inhibited by the design of many urban playgrounds.

As a the only Landscape Architect on the Working Group, Helen’s aim was to ensure that outdoor spaces were on the agenda and she has made a number of significant contributions to the report.

Her research on the ‘Kit Fence Carpet’ style of playground – with its recognisable, fenced-in, fixed play equipment on brightly coloured rubber surfacing – has been used to show that children have been separated from natural elements and have had their play possibilities limited.

She also contributed to the section on the planning system, in which she raised questions as to whether the National Planning Policy Framework is supporting the needs and involvement of children's outdoor play, before looking at play opportuntities in existing housing areas, evidenced through the Living with Nature project in Sheffield.

Helen said: “it has been a great delight to be able to contribute to the APPG working group on play. I hope that the work will be able to influence national and local government, funders, teachers, parents and others who have an interest in children and their outdoor environment. One of the key recommendations of the report is a call for a Whole Child Strategy within which play would sit, under the aegis of a Cabinet Minister for Children. This would be a great achievement.”

Play: A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a fit and healthy childhood.