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Partnership studies benefits of indoor play centres

York St John University has joined forces with the Play Providers Association (PPA) to carry out studies into the benefits of indoor play on a child’s health and wellbeing.

The studies will be carried out by the Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, which is led by Dean of Faculty, Professor Pamela Dawson. Research begins in September and will involve York St John students and lecturers leading projects at Creepy Crawlies play centre and adventure park in York.

Andy Buckton, Senior Lecturer in Sport at York St John University, will measure physical activity of children during free play. Andy hopes that his study will help to develop an understanding of the contribution that this form of play provides in reaching Department of Health recommended levels of physical activity. He said:

“This is a great opportunity to examine the physical activity that occurs during visits to play centres and helps to identify the role PPA members can have in enabling more children to engage in sufficient physical activity - both for immediate health benefits and in establishing longer term health related behaviour.”

Another study will focus on the role that indoor play has in developing and building movement skills. Evidence suggests that nearly 5% of children have developmental coordination disorder, which restricts their successful participation in school-based PE lessons and break-time activities where coordination is paramount. Lois Addy, Senior Lecturer and Advanced Clinical Occupational Therapist, will work with Occupational Therapy students to create a series of graded and structured play circuits at Creepy Crawlies to extend the skills of children. Lois said:

“It is important to provide these types of therapies in a natural context in order to promote both social and educational inclusion. We are providing York St John students with a unique chance to be involved in this new partnership with the PPA and we’re delighted to be working with Creepy Crawlies to kick the studies off.”

The PPA represents over 150 play centres nationwide and has recently undertaken a campaign to raise the profile of indoor play and its role in improving children’s health and well-being. Indoor play sessions, which are typically two hours in length, provide well in excess of a child’s recommended 60 active minutes of exercise.

Janice Dunphy, chair of the PPA and owner of Creepy Crawlies in York commented that the new project was vital to the future of the sector. She said:

“Indoor play has been trying to align with the health agenda for a couple of years now and with our proven successful campaigns in support of Change4Life we have shown the value of indoor play. Simple observation shows us that play is great for a child’s health, however without the necessary data and research we will be unable to convince commissioners that exercise, more specifically play, in our accredited PPA sites, is a viable investment.”

She added:

“This is why we are so pleased to announce this new partnership which will give our members the tools to be able to inform their customers of the health benefit of their centres. We ultimately aim for GPs to be able to offer ‘play on prescription’ so that everyone can access our facilities and so that children can have a healthier start in their lives.”

For further information please contact Amy Hall, PR & Communications Officer on T: 01904 876466 or E: a.hall@yorksj.ac.uk


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