Children should partake in more “risky play” including playing near cliffs and water, an all-party parliamentary group has suggested.
The recommendations are part of a new report, ‘Play’ by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, chaired by Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick and Liberal Democrat Peer, Baroness Floella Benjamin.
The committee decides recommendations to improve and contribute to children’s health and wellbeing and presents them to parliament.
One of those recommendations suggests child’s play has become too safe, the report says: “Many urban playgrounds are invariably neat and tidy, supplying playful options that are neither properly challenging nor exciting.”
The 10 Best adventure playgrounds
The 10 Best adventure playgrounds
This playground offers something for everyone: mini animal farm, high-ropes course, wacky swings and a quad-bike racetrack. The inside play area features one of the biggest Astra slides in the country and lots of dressing up for keen thespians. Also on site is a hair and beauty studio, nursery, fitness suite, pottery barn and riding school.
From £5.50, creepy-crawlies.co.uk
Go Ape runs sites nationwide but this new London outpost is set to open on 15 February. Set in the middle of beautiful woodland, just a 10-minute walk from Cockfosters Tube station, it boasts giant swings, rope bridges and zip wires. It's not a cheap family day out, but you won't forget it in a hurry.
From £24 for children, goape.co.uk
Spanning over three acres and boasting one of Yorkshire's best adventure playgrounds and picnic areas, children of all ages can enjoy a range of activities including climbing nets, zipwires and aerial walkways against the backdrop of the 18th-century Treasure House.
Set in the heart of the Peak District, Chatworth House's adventure playground opens for the February half-term, with climbing forest and trailer ride. There's also a farmyard and petting area, and daily milking demonstrations.
Located in the grounds of the Belfast Castle Estate, Cave Hill opens at the weekends for children from ages three to 14 to explore cradle swings, spring rockers, slides and bicycle roundabouts. For older children there is a thrilling space net and aerial runway to play on.
Oasis Children's Venture is an open-access local charity based in Stockwell, London. It has a nature garden, karting track and adventure playground for children to enjoy challenging and exciting activities.
Open at weekends, Bodelwyddan Castle is set in 260-acre grounds that also contain a maze, First World War trenches, walking routes and woodland life. The play area in Rabbit Wood features swings, slides and climbing frames for younger children.
Aerial Extreme offers nationwide High Ropes Adventure Courses to tackle the tree tops through obstacles such as rope bridges, zip wires and balance beams. Children from 1.1m (3ft 6ins) tall can scale the heights, apart from in Stoke-on-Trent where minimum height is 1.4m.
Tickets from £15, aerialextreme.co.uk
This frankly terrifying system of metal hooks, rope ladders and zip lines has come to the Honister Pass in Cumbria. Like Go Ape on steroids.
The report suggests this should be changed, saying: “Risky play involving perhaps rough and tumble, height, speed, playing near potentially dangerous elements such as water, cliffs and exploring alone with the possibility of getting lost gives children a feeling of thrill and excitement.”
According to the report, the benefits include: “risk assessment and mastery”, “learning when feelings of fear indicates that behaviour is unsafe and learning to balance feelings of fear and excitement” as well as “a crucial sense of competence which forms a foundation for the development of healthy self-esteem, self-reliance and resilience in the face of life’s stressors.”
The report also looks at the role of technology in child’s play and calls on the play industry, advertising, the media and national and local government to recognise the importance of play for children.
Baroness Benjamin, who was also a presenter on the children’s programme Playschool said: “This is the most comprehensive recent study of play in all its forms and proves the truth of the old saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’”