What is the Play Alliance?
The Play Alliance is a network of organisations focused on creating play opportunities for children in communities where these resources do not exist or are in short supply.
The Play Alliance commits to goodwill cooperation and open-source sharing of their time, ideas, resources and knowledge with other members of the Alliance to give more children access to play opportunities around the world
What is ‘play’?
We refer to ‘play’ as behaviours that:
1. are intrinsically motivated, or done for their own sake;
2. are non-literal, where behaviours do not have their normal or “literal” meaning;
3. show positive effect, such as laughter and other emotions;
4. are flexible, varying in form and content; and
5. demonstrate the child being more interested in the performance of the behaviour than in its outcome (for further review please see Smith, 2010).
Based on the above, most behaviours have the potential to be classified as play. However, there are established types of behaviours that most will agree are play (see Smith, 2010):
● Social Contingency Play: Refers to activities such as “peek-a-boo” where there is enjoyment in the response of others.
● Sensorimotor Play: Refers to activities with objects (or one’s own body) that are based on the sensory properties of the objects; for example sucking, banging blocks or dropping blocks repeatedly.
● Object Play: Children take part in a lot of activities with objects, much of this being construction play. Fitting Lego blocks together, making block towers, using modelling clay, pouring water from one container to another, etc.
● Language Play: Children can play with noises, syllables, words and phrases. This can be a kind of babbling, rhyming couplets, or repetitive statements, in a non-literal sense.
● Physical Activity Play: In general, this refers to gross bodily movements. Exercise play is the main form e.g, running, jumping, crawling, climbing and so forth. This includes ‘Rough and Tumble’ play, a form of vigorous social play, involving grappling, wrestling, kicking chasing and other behaviours that may be seen as aggressive in a non-playful context.
● Fantasy or Pretend Play: This includes actions, or vocalisations and non-literal use of objects
We value children’s need to play. For a healthy life, a child MUST have time and space to play. Adults are responsible for creating that space because children cannot create it on their own. In so doing, we value the rights of the child to play as they see fit within their family, community and culture.
We value play in education. Play is a child’s natural tool for learning in social groups and alone, assisting the child to learn in all areas of the curriculum. In play, children have the opportunity to evaluate and synthesise all learning into their lives. What is learned is culturally specific and valued. This requires that a child must be given regular time in their formal and pre-formal education for unstructured free play.
Play for all children. Play spaces are required to be inclusive of every child without discrimination. Although no one playground element can cater to every child’s needs, the whole playground should be designed with the needs of a diverse range of children’s abilities and timing of development in mind. The space should be stimulating, enjoyable and challenging, regardless of special mental and physical needs, size, gender, class or age.
Encouragement of cultural diversity. Play spaces should reflect the community in which they sit. They should be bespoke in their design, based on community feedback and desires. They are a representation of how adults and children within specific communities value their time during play and thus will look very different in different places.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. We strive to uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Articles therein that outline the Internationally agreed upon statements (1-54) for the roles of adults and governments to ensure the safety and freedom of children, globally. (www.unicef.org)
Child safety. Child safety is paramount. Rates of death and injury of children are much higher in the developing world. Children’s play spaces should conform to local standards/guidelines, and at all times and should be designed in a way to reduce the possibility of serious injury while maintaining a stimulating and challenging environment.
Global safety standards are available here, and Playground Ideas’ free, downloadable basic safety handbook is available for registered Users here. Creating a safe play-space may reduce the instance of child injury by preventing children from playing in unsafe places such as on roads or industrial areas.
How we work with communities. Because of social inequities and the positive and negative stigmas our world has put on certain people from certain places, it matters how we communicate. A consciousness of the power imbalances and stereotypes and the desire to shift these is essential in creating lasting responsible partnerships cross-culturally. Therefore, we view ourselves as the provider of tools and resources that local community members can utilise to build play spaces in ways that reflect their needs, desires, and beliefs on child and community development. Community consultation processes are available from Playground Ideas website handbooks.
Sustainability. Sustainability is more than just having the money, time or the ability to maintain a project; it includes ensuring the project has strong initial demand and ownership from the community as well. By working with local communities, a sense of pride and accomplishment will help ensure the upkeep and value of safe play spaces.
No agenda. We agree to assist communities to create places for children’s play needs with no agendas such as proselytisation, corporate, military or political interests. We stand firm in the belief that children’s needs should never be used to leverage other agendas.
We assist communities regardless of race religion or creed. Working for the health and development of children is a priority of people regardless of race, ethnicity, class or creed. Children deserve space and time to play regardless of race, ethnicity, class or creed. Therefore, we see value in bringing all people together to build playgrounds for all children without an intention of changing cultural or religious beliefs.