Play is all around us and Sport NZ is encouraging tamariki and their whānau to find ways to play anywhere and everywhere to celebrate Play Week Aotearoa 2023.
Play Week runs from 6 – 12 November and aims to highlight the value of play and the importance of ensuring tamariki have quality play opportunities and experiences.
Play is where tamariki can develop and practice life skills, improve social and emotional connection, and create a platform for a life of physical activity and wellbeing. However, Sport NZ research shows the number of hours that tamariki are engaging in play is in decline - from 7.2 hours per week in 2018 to 6.9 hours per week in 2022.
Sport NZ Play Manager, Scott Mackenzie, says while the hours that tamariki are playing are in decline, the way they play is also under threat.
“This can often be due to safety concerns and time spent on devices so we need to ensure tamariki and whānau understand that play can happen anywhere and everywhere – so it happens more often.
"Play is not limited to playgrounds or parks. We want tamariki and whānau to take time out from their weekly activities and just play – whether it’s at home, in the garden, or on the way to school.
“If you have a box – you have play, if you have a tree – you have play. It really is everywhere.
Sport NZ supports the Neighbourhood Play System (NPS) approach to play – which brings together schools or kura, local organisations and community groups who work together to bring play projects to life that suit the needs of their tamariki in the places they live.
At the heart of this kaupapa is giving tamariki a voice around how they want to play.
“Tamariki are critical to the success of the NPS because we need to know where they play, how they play, and what might be preventing them from playing – either at home, at school or in their neighbourhoods,” says Scott Mackenzie.
“A child’s earliest physical experiences are through play, and it allows them to experience fun, joy and laughter in ways that are important to them, and in doing so develop key skills that will help keep them active for life.”
Sport Bay of Plenty supports the NPS, and Regional Play System lead Steph Reichardt says there have been some great ideas from tamariki, including implementing ‘Play on the Way’ where students helped design and draw hopscotch, footprints and mazes in alley ways alongside two schools in the Bay area.*
“It was wonderful to see the students engaged in helping bring ‘Play on the Way’ to life and to see the satisfaction once they had completed the project, and the fun they had using it.
“Our young people are so full of ideas and suggestions to make the spaces they move through more user friendly – we really just have to talk to them!” says Steph Reichardt.
Play Week Aotearoa 2023 is being promoted across the motu by organisations including Regional Sports Trusts, Councils and schools, in an effort to share the importance of play and show that anyone can participate, anywhere.
Play is at the heart of Sport NZ’s strategy to get Every Body Active, and the organisation is working with a national workforce to ensure all tamariki have quality opportunities to be active and healthy.
People can find out more about Play Week Aotearoa 2023 and all the events on offer at www.playweek.co.nz
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