Sport NZ is investing $4.3 million into a project that will help councils across Aotearoa highlight the value of play for tamariki and whānau wellbeing.
The investment includes creating 18 new Local Play Advocate roles inside local councils over the next four years. Sport NZ will fund each role for two years.
The funding is part of the Local Play Workforce Project which has been developed by Sport NZ to develop and train a dedicated workforce of play professionals.
Sport NZ Play System Lead, Scott Mackenzie, says the aim is to highlight the importance of local councils in building community wellbeing through play.
“Play is the easiest way for our tamariki to stay active and is a vital component in their physical, social, emotional and spiritual development. It is one of the many ways we support New Zealanders to get active.
“Play allows tamariki to experience fun and freedom and gives them the opportunity to learn to solve problems, get creative, face new challenges, and create new friendships. They get to build the attitudes, skills and life-long love of being active.
“This is particularly important as we emerge from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
The new council roles will add to the current workforce of Regional Play System Leads based in Regional Sports Trusts (RSTs) across Aotearoa.
“These roles present a new and exciting opportunity for RSTs to work more closely with our territorial authorities,” says Scott Mackenzie.
“The initiative aims to build a significant national play workforce to help our regions better understand, plan and invest in play opportunities for tamariki.
“Play is about much more than playgrounds; play can take place everywhere.”
The first cohort of the Local Play Workforce Project is up and running, with roles placed in councils in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Gisborne and Christchurch.
This follows a successful pilot of the initiative in Hamilton, Auckland and Christchurch.
Louise Van Tongeren is the Council Play Advocate in Christchurch and says it has been interesting and extremely rewarding work.
“One day I might be working with the Parks team to develop a nature play space in an empty park, or with the Transport team to improve outdoor spaces to make walking and scootering to school more appealing.
“The next, I could be supporting community recreation advisors or library staff to develop play programmes or talking to organisations who need support with their own play initiatives.
“I love the range of conversations I have about safer neighbourhoods, inclusive playgrounds, and making our streets more child friendly. It's all about play!”
The Local Play Workforce Project derives from Kia Hīanga, the Sport NZ play plan, which identifies the importance of representing both a tangata whenua and tangata tiriti worldview in the work that we do.
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