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ABC Lord Mayor and NI Children’s Commissioner Launch Council Play Strategy

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (ABC Council) has pledged its commitment to prioritising children and young people’s right to leisure, play and culture by launching its Play Strategy 2018-2026 on World Mental Health Day.

The eight-year strategy puts ABC Council at the forefront of health, recreation and leisure in Northern Ireland, actively championing play to help improve understanding of its critical importance to children and young people. Through the public launch of the strategy, it is hoped that partner organisations and communities will place greater value on play, which is the hallmark of a vital, vibrant community.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Julie Flaherty commented,  “We have chosen to launch our new Play Strategy on World Mental Health Day to emphasise how important play is for our children and young people.

“It is vital to children’s physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. It equips them with transferable skills to serve them in later life and it breaks down barriers. Evidence indicates that activity in children and young people is key to promoting positive well-being.

“This strategy will ultimately support the development of play-friendly communities, and we expect to see more children playing outdoors across the borough.”

Through the strategy, children, young people, parents and communities will be given the opportunity to have a say when it comes to meeting local play needs, ensuring that everyone will start to recognise the positive contribution play makes to society.

Welcoming the Play Strategy, Koulla Yiasouma, NI Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) said, “I congratulate Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council on the launch of its Play Strategy and look forward to seeing its full implementation in consultation with children and young people across the Borough. I welcome the commitment to the right of all children, regardless of their age or circumstances, to play.”

Jacqueline O’Loughlin, CEO of PlayBoard NI, the independent organisation which helped develop the strategy, led the proceedings, eliciting memories of play from audience members while council representatives encouraged both adults and children in the room to get up and moving to truly demonstrate the importance of being active.

For further information or to find out how to get involved in play in your area, contact Joan Noade, Play Development Officer, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council on [email protected] or 075 1560 7472.