Junior Minister's Speech- Open Playboard's 'Shaping A Culture Of Play' Conference 19th October 2010

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Good morning everyone.

I too want to thank you for providing us with this opportunity to address so many key stakeholders in the children and young people’s sector today.

Running my eye down the variety of professions and bodies present today is a useful reminder of the sheer scope that provision of our proposed play policy implementation requires. And we are only at the beginning.

I see delivery partners from housing development, planning, councils, libraries, the consumer council and the private sector to name but a few.

The list demonstrates the broad nature and near universal impact it has on our entire society.

I want to pass on our mutual thanks and congratulations to the staff of PlayBoard for organising this event and carrying forward so much work relevant to the sector and for all children and young people.

This conference is entitled “Shaping a Culture of Play” – it is at first glance a simple enough statement, but in truth it is tackling a complex and complicated subject.

We were all once children looking to play, looking to explore our neighbourhood,  explore with our imaginations, playing until dusk, dreading our parents call that it was time to come in.

But there are fewer places to play now, streets are more congested, playgrounds and playing fields run down.

I believe there is a place for all styles of play –electronic consoles and on-line games are very much part and parcel of our children’s lives.

But it is my belief as someone who is proud of my modest sporting endeavor that there is a place for both on-line AND on-field fun.

We owe it to the physical well being of our children and young people that there are alternatives to Super Mario and computer football games. 

I want to see them playing real football in a properly maintained and dedicated area where all can meet and mingle in mutual regard.

We believe our children and young people have much to teach us and will engage them on the implementation of our play policy. Providing us with the opportunity to reshape the arena of play and the life opportunities for entire generations.

The aim of the policy is to establish play as an essential element in the development of children’s lives, families, communities and society and to improve current play and leisure provision for all children and young people aged 0-18.

The implementation plan will provide us with a step by step approach to make these aspirations real and possible within an achievable timescale.

But it is only practicable if we work together and identify what and how we do things.

We will start the public consultation soon, I encourage you to become fully involved, to take ownership and shape this plan to make it a robust, popularly-owned and shared tool to provide us with a clear and attainable goal – an infrastructure that supports our children and young people with the chance to fulfill their potential.

You have a demanding and challenging programme ahead of you over the next two days.

I wish you well in your conference and look forward to your full participation in the oncoming consultation. Thank you.