Opinion Former Article

BLF: playful ideas national release

For immediate release Monday 7th January 2008


Innovative play schemes across England received a Lottery good cause cash injection today to get more children playing in different and creative ways. A total of seven projects are sharing in the £1.35 million from the Big Lottery Fund's Playful Ideas programme, including an initiative to use technology to help disabled children get the most out of play.

Amongst the projects celebrating is AbilityNet's 'Play AT IT' scheme that has been awarded £248,395 over two years. The project aims to widen play options for nursery age disabled children through technology, ensuring they don't miss out on the benefits play can bring to their development. Many people with disabilities have a reliance on technology for learning, communication, independent living and leisure, this project will also give children an early introduction to some of the adapted equipment they may come to rely upon in later life.

Two nurseries or Sure Start centres in each of the nine English government regions will be chosen as locations for the project. Each will receive a fully configured accessible computer system with specialised equipment for disabled children including touch screen, accessible keyboards, trackballs, joysticks, small mice and switch access. A range of accessible games and fun educational software will also be provided such as Bob the Builder games, jigsaw makers, face makers, touch balloons, number games, music, stories and funfair packages.

Rory Field, Corporate & Development Manager, AbilityNet, explains: "So much life development occurs through play and play opportunities for young children. Playing with friends for example teachers a child group cohesion and responsibility; some play opportunities teach them independence and others teach them important skills for later in life. Children draw with crayons and inadvertently learn the basics of reading and writing before they receive any schooling. Most importantly though 'play' provides young children with interaction, togetherness and enjoyment. Too often a disabled child is excluded from many of these opportunities on account of their disability. Not only do they loose out on the enjoyment, but they run the risk of falling behind in some developmental respects.

"With the support of the Big Lottery Fund, AbilityNet is able to run 'Play AT IT'; a project that will work with nurseries and dedicated groups working with disabled children, providing them with equipment, training and access to loan equipment, all aimed at increasing the play opportunities for disabled children as well as sharing more play opportunities with their able bodied peers. The disabled children will also become more familiar with assistive technology, therefore becoming proficient in the use of their access medium before they enter school, allowing them to start on a more level playing field with their able bodied peers."

Another project to receive funding will help some of the country's more vulnerable children. The National Children's Bureau (NCB) has been awarded £161,491 to develop better activities and approaches to play for the benefit of young parents in custody and their children, through its two-year Locked in Play initiative.

The project will develop new play programmes, provide training for prison staff and improve play facilities. Initially the project will be located in four secure settings in the South East, with a view to expanding to other areas in the future.

Jo Butcher, Assistant Director of Well-Being at NCB, explains: "NCB is delighted that its Locked in Play proposal to the BIG Lottery Fund has been successful. The grant will enable us to work in partnership with staff in prisons to develop better activities and approaches to play for the benefit of the children of young parents in custody - an area that is currently underdeveloped. Some 150,000 children each year are affected by the imprisonment of a parent. Relationships between young parents in custody and their children are often fragile and play is essential to promoting positive health and well-being, enabling both parent and child to bond and explore, and have fun together."

Other projects to receive funding today are Bournemouth YMCA, who have been awarded £174,152 for its Hands-on Media Play Van initiative. The van will give children in Bournemouth, Pool and Christchurch the chance to experience interviewing and radio and video editing.

A play project designed to steer children away from crime and anti-social behaviour on a Hull estate receives £249,843. Through its Day Larks and Night Owls at Planet Play initiative, Child Dynamix will offer a safe environment for child-led free play with activities including arts and crafts, cooking classes, sports and dance sessions.

In Lancashire and Cumbria, £93,558 has been awarded to the Folly Trust for its Portable Pixel Playground project. The playground will appear in public places, allowing children to play creatively with a range of digital art exhibits specifically designed to encourage kids to engage more creatively with technology.

The South London Fine Art Gallery, receives £179,985 for Making Play - a scheme that offers adventures in creative play through contemporary art. Working with children in Southwark and Lambeth, the project is a cocktail of innovative play ideas allowing kids, who normally lack access to contemporary art, to experience play through various artistic forms in differing settings.

Also in London, £249,969 is heading to London Play to promote safe play near children's homes through around 100 street play events in Lambeth, Hounslow and Tower Hamlets. The events will use traditional games to raise opportunities and awareness about the benefits of children's need to play outdoors.

Sanjay Dighe, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund's England Committee, said: "All of these projects are using innovative approaches to encourage children from a variety of backgrounds to participate in playful activities. The essential benefits that play brings as part of a child's well-being and development are becoming more and more common knowledge. All children should have the opportunity to play and just as importantly, to have fun."

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030 Textphone: 0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

Notes to Editors

. The Big Lottery Fund will support children's play with £155 million through:
- the £124 million Children's Play programme, with funds available to every local authority area in England;
- a separate £16 million Playful Ideas programme focussing on innovation; and
- a £15 million grant to the Children's Play Council, part of the National Children's Bureau, to fund England-wide development and support.

. Under the Children's Play programme, in deciding how best to allocate the available funds to each authority the Big Lottery Fund have allocated: 50 per cent of the funding on the basis of child population, and 50 per cent of the regional population living in the most deprived 20% of Super Output Areas included in the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004. The minimum amount allocated to any local authority is £200,000.

. Under Playful Ideas registered charities; voluntary or community groups; charitable or not-for-profit companies; social enterprises; and town and parish councils can apply. However, other organisations, such as schools, can work in partnership on Playful Ideas projects.

. The Big Lottery Fund awarded a grant to the Children's Play Council a strategic alliance of organisations working to promote the importance of play and to stimulate better play opportunities. Play England - a project of the Children's Play Council - lead on this work by helping agencies to develop play strategies and apply for Children's Play funding. For further information please visit www.ncb.org.uk

. The Big Lottery Fund rolls out close to £2 million in lottery good cause money every 24 hours, which together with other Lottery distributors means that across the UK most people are within a few miles of a Lottery-funded project.


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