Request our Guide to safety surfacing

Play Matta - A wet pour/wetpour alternative

Latest News

All news

Children Need Challenging Play!

Jul 23, 2008

The need to ensure that our children stretch themselves through more challenging play is more important than ever argues Ruth Phillips of leading safety surfacing specialist Matta Products.

The recent announcement from Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls that £235m will be made available to fund play equipment for 3,500 recreation areas across the UK provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on the importance of more challenging play opportunities for the nation’s children.

With a wealth of other distractions available to young people in the form of satellite television, the internet and increasingly sophisticated games consoles, there is no denying that our current generation of youngsters are growing up in a ‘couch culture’.

Coupled with parents’ understandable fears about child safety, this has undoubtedly contributed to a number of social problems including childhood obesity and a lack of positive independent spirit among children.

There have even also been suggestions that there may be a link between children not playing outdoors and a rise in allergies. Muriel Simmons, the chief executive of the British Allergy Foundation, has said that a trend seems to be emerging in that children who are not exposed to bacteria are more at risk of developing allergies. She said: "We have developed lifestyles where our homes are ultra-clean, where children who are well-off play on computers rather than getting into rough and tumble in the mud outdoors where they get cuts and bruises and get used to fighting off infection."

Play is integral to children’s health and development and through play they can develop their abilities, learn about the world around them and explore their creativity. Play space that is stimulating and exciting allows children to learn about risk, helping them to build confidence, learn skills and develop resilience.

It is also a great way for young children to develop social and teamwork skills and emotional intelligence. Play can also help to tackle some of the issues presented by our ‘couch culture’ as well as antisocial behaviour, often blamed on the boredom of young people. It can also alleviate the stresses of school pressure and bring families together through fun activities and quality time away from the pressures of everyday life.

We believe that traditional playgrounds hold limited interest for older children, especially in today’s climate where concerns over safety can dominate design and limit risk-taking features. We think local authorities and play designers need to consider how best to provide stimulating and beneficial environments for children of all ages encouraging outdoor play.

However, if we plan to push the boundaries of play then safety becomes more important than ever. Safety surfacing protects children from falls from play equipment , thus significantly reducing the risks associated with play areas.

This also enables more imagination when planning and designing play areas. Our products are designed to international safety standards and protect from falls of up to 2.9m. They are always installed by an expert and have been used in over 8,000 play areas across the UK, making us a leading authority on play safety.

We believe the ideal playground challenges children and helps improve co-ordination, agility, problem-solving skills, spatial awareness, strength and social interaction. Most importantly it should provide a safe environment for children to express themselves in and push the boundaries of play, and safety surfacing has an integral role to play in that.

Matta has worked closely over many years with Lappset, a market leader in adventurous play equipment, stretching the physical challenges of children and adults whilst recognising that risk and learning has to be balanced with safety. Lappset produce a range of innovative and challenging play equipment which incorporates computer technology such as touch sensitive games, more challenging, technical climbing frames for older children and bright, innovative designs and colours to attract interest in play. These products not only encourage children to engage in more physical play for longer but also inspire learning.

There are some excellent examples of playgrounds achieving the ideal of balancing challenging play with safety which should be seen as blueprints for all play providers in the UK. By continuing this trend and considering how best to provide stimulating and beneficial environments for children of all ages in outdoor play, we can step up to the challenge of developing a generation of healthier, happier children.

Facebook Twitter DZone It! Digg It! StumbleUpon Technorati NewsVine Reddit Blinklist Add diigo bookmark