22 Local Authorities will benefit from the funding boost
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone TD has announced funding for children’s play and recreation projects across the country.
Twenty two Local Authorities will benefit from funding for projects under the Capital Grant Scheme for Play and Recreation for new and innovative play and recreation projects and the improvement of existing facilities.
The total value of the Scheme is €250,000.
The projects, funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), include the upgrade and redevelopment of older play spaces.
New projects also include the development of a percussions sensory play installation and the establishment of a youth water sports and adventure programme that targets "disadvantaged, at risk and disabled youth".
Accessible playground equipment will also be provided at sites which will enable children with disabilities to use and enjoy their local playgrounds with friends and families.
Making the announcement Minister Zappone outlined the benefits of outdoor play.
“Every child needs access to play areas [...] Play areas must give a sense of adventure.
"They must compete with hi-tech games to bring excitement into the lives of our children which is why I welcome projects which are innovative.
"The benefits of play are well known – it is good for health, creates new friendships and brings excitement into young lives. With this funding it is my hope that another generation will get to know the joy of the playground."
The Minister noted that the 2017 Scheme was oversubscribed and competitive. Successful applications were those that best met the funding criteria.
Matched funding is being provided in each case by the relevant Local Authority.
Early Childhood Ireland advises that children spend as much time as practical outdoors. Best advice is that children under five should aim for three hours of physical activity every day.
The Growing Up in Ireland study found that on average, only 58% of five-year-olds spent less than two hours in front of a screen on a weekday and that 25% of three-year-olds were overweight.
Early Childhood Ireland, CEO, Teresa Heeney said: “The benefits of outdoor play are multi-faceted. They span the entire range of a child’s development; physical, mental, sensory and social. Outdoors, children’s senses are naturally stimulated and play spaces provide opportunities for new experiences which are unavailable inside.
"From a physical perspective, lack of activity is inextricably linked to obesity among young children. So, we warmly welcome this funding. The more open-air, free to access recreational spaces available to children the better.
"We would also encourage local authorities to include natural materials like sand, clay, water and wood when redeveloping their play areas. Such materials are especially important for young children to stimulate their imagination, support their concentration and develop their problem solving skills.”