Boys and girls come out to play (and adults)

Communities across Bucks are being invited to come out to play.

They can take advantage of a scheme which highlights the importance of outdoor play and encourages neighbours to spend time socialising, promoting the benefits for health and wellbeing.

Play Streets invites residents to apply for permission, free, to close their road for a few hours at a time so that they can come together outside their homes to socialise and play safely.

Angela Macpherson, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: ‘Encouraging children to play outside means they are getting exercise and moving around rather than sitting down in front of a screen and for adults, we can spend so much time caught up in day-to-day activities that we forget the boost you get having a relaxed catch up with a neighbour, and the benefits that standing up and moving around more can have.’

The scheme is part of a national Playing Out initiative and has been running successfully in the county for several years. Roads are closed to traffic for the duration but pedestrian access is allowed and residents can enjoy spending time together outside their homes.

Angela Macpherson, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: ‘Playing with friends outside your house is something many of us may remember doing when we were younger, but it has become less popular in recent years.

‘Play Streets seeks to bring back that simple enjoyment and allow communities to stop for a moment and spend some time together.

‘It allows all generations, not just children to get involved, helping to boost community spirit and neighbourhood bonds.’

Play Streets is particularly beneficial to children and young people in terms of health and wellbeing and for reducing social isolation for adults.

Figures for Bucks show:

* Only 48% of children and young people are reaching recommended activity levels of 60 minutes of activity per day.
* More than 30% of children aged 10 to 11 years old are above a healthy weight.
* Children’s play is vital for happiness, physical and emotional development and social learning.
* Levels of loneliness rose more in Bucks than the national average during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly one quarter (24%) of adults felt lonely at least some of the time in 2021.

Ms Macpherson added: ‘Activities like this have a positive impact on both our mental and physical health.’

Many Bucks communities have run Play Streets sessions previously and have found it to be both popular and beneficial.

One resident said: ‘The sense of community is definitely the best thing about it.’

A child who took part explained the simple pleasure that could be had in such an event. They said that the best part of the session for them was, ‘riding my bike with no cars around’.

What you need to know:
With summer months approaching, communities are being encouraged to start applying now, to allow time for planning and paperwork to be completed.

For more information visit the website: https://www.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/community-and-safety/helping-your-community/organise-a-play-streets-session/

Pictured:
Play Street hopscotch