Why is Play Important - with Oxfordshire Play Association
Why is Play Important? This was the question at the heart of the 2021/22 collaborative research project between Oxfordshire Play Association (OPA), the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University. The infographic above summarises the key findings of the resulting report, published in July 2022.
The first edition of 'Why is Play Important in Oxfordshire' is aimed at influencing local decision-makers and those who make funding decisions, to demonstrate the importance of play for the physical and mental wellbeing of children and young people in Oxfordshire.
There is a lot of evidence and research around play, on a national and regional basis, but nothing has ever been produced exclusively with Oxfordshire needs and circumstances as its focus. Despite the overall affluence of the county there are several pockets of deprivation and the county also suffers from rural deprivation.
The project team now plan to produce a second edition that will be aimed at Oxfordshire's parents and carers.
The collaboration between OPA and Oxford researchers was part of our ‘Science Together’ programme, aimed at bringing together researchers at both Universities with local community groups in and around the city, to address and respond to local needs, interests and perspectives. The idea of the programme is to put the Universities’ combined research skills at the disposal of communities, to tackle key challenges identified by grassroots community groups.
OPA was interested in partnering with researchers to help make a case for why play is important for the health and wellbeing of children, young people, their families and the wider community within Oxfordshire. Since 2008 and the onset of austerity and public sector cuts, funding for play in Oxfordshire has seen a significant fall, as it has not been a priority for dwindling Council budgets.
OPA wanted to gather evidence through a literature review, to make the case for the importance of play in Oxfordshire, and explore its value from a health and wellbeing perspective, not only for children and young people, but more widely across the community. The charity's aim was to produce a report and flyer that could be circulated to local stakeholders and, in particular, local councils to make the case for increasing funding for play throughout the county.
Initial workshops led to a collaboration of four researchers with diverse interests and experience partnering with Oxfordshire Play Association to produce the first report:
- Dr Juliet Carpenter (Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation, Kellogg College, Oxford University)
- Dr Andrei Constantin (Department of Physics, Oxford University)
- Dr Mina Samangooei (School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University)
- Dr Kate Wilmut (Centre for Psychological Research, Oxford Brookes University).
With research assistance support from Oxford Brookes University's psychology graduate Fruzina Urban, together with facilitation support from the University of Oxford’s Science Together team - Polly Kerr (Primary Care), Oli Moore (Science Engagement Facilitator), Rachel Ashwanden (Science Engagement Officer) and Saskia O’Sullivan (Department of Chemistry) - this interdisciplinary team set about reviewing and synthesising recent evidence for the importance of play and relating it to the local context.
Their report on the importance of play brings together key arguments for the critical importance of investing in play and highlights the need for support across the county.
Find out more
For further information about this collaboration and the resulting report, contact Martin Gillett, Oxfordshire Play Association, at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about Oxfordshire Play Association and the amazing work they do please visit their website: www.oxonplay.org.uk or follow the organisation on social media:
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