Every child wants to play - in fact, it is every child's Right to play. Our playschemes are at the heart of what we do.
1. Play ends a child's isolation
By becoming part of our playscheme, the young people attending immediately become a part of something, having often spent much of their lives isolated and abandoned, they now belong to a community. This means that the children will go on to make friends – friends are often the people you learn the most from and they provide you with a ‘support network’, which is vital to anybody, especially those who have been marginalised and isolated.
In addition, building relationships helps develop a child’s communication skills. It doesn’t take long before a child that has struggled to communicate clearly before, starts bossing everyone about!
2. Play challenges negative attitudes
One of the most important aspects of our work is to change negative attitudes. There is no better way to change attitudes than having local volunteers work with disabled children. These positive experiences change negative attitudes about disability, helping to remove the stigma which currently exists.
3. Playschemes develop a framework for local service development
Playschemes enable us to do an informal survey of the area we are operating in. We can estimate the number of disabled people in the community, we can identify the problems that disabled people face and subsequently identify and develop the services that those people need.
4. Play is accessible
All you need to have in order to play is an imagination, which everyone has.
5. Play is inexpensive
As we have said above, you can play without needing any equipment at all. While some of the most popular things that children play with such as footballs, toy cars and dolls are inexpensive items.
6. Play is the most effective way a child can learn
If you want to teach a child numeracy, you’re far more likely to engage with the child by playing a game of ‘shopping’ than by sitting them down with a pencil and telling them to do their times tables.
Most people engage and consequently learn far better in an interactive environment such as a playscheme.
7. Play is a great way to encourage physiotherapy
Physiotherapy is boring, especially for children. It is difficult to explain to a child how important physiotherapy is and what it does… BUT a child wouldn’t turn down the option of playing! Play is an innovative way to encourage a child to do certain exercises and strengthen their limbs while improving coordination.
In The Gambia, we will have trained Physiotherapists attending the Inclusion Centre, working with the children and showing our Playworkers the best activities to do with the young people attending. It’s simple but very effective!
There are many more reasons why play is so important, but these are our top seven. What are your views? What would you add to the list? Please comment and let us know. If you like what you read, please share and spread the word.