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County's play strategy launched

PUBLISHED: 10:30 25 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:31 05 July 2010

THE need for children to take risks when they play is highlighted in the first ever play strategy for Suffolk which was launched yesterday.

Produced by Partners in Play Suffolk (PIPS) - the group set up specifically to develop the strategy - it commits the county council and districts and boroughs to creating and sustaining opportunities so all children and young people in Suffolk can enjoy themselves, and develop their potential.

THE need for children to take risks when they play is highlighted in the first ever play strategy for Suffolk which was launched yesterday.

Produced by Partners in Play Suffolk (PIPS) - the group set up specifically to develop the strategy - it commits the county council and districts and boroughs to creating and sustaining opportunities so all children and young people in Suffolk can enjoy themselves, and develop their potential.

The initiative follows the awarding of more than £1.5m to the district and borough councils to improve play provision across the county.

And delegates at the launch, a Brome Grange, near Eye, heard how the local authorities are already planning projects that will give children the chance to stretch themselves and face challenges without exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.

Forest Heath District Council will be working with Forest Enterprise to provide a BMX bike track at Mildenhall Woods, and setting up play ranger projects with some of its £200,000 funding. Waveney District Council is planning a state of the art concrete skateboard and BMX bowl in Lowestoft, and will be updating three rural play spaces, while Suffolk Coastal is creating a play park on a 1.28hectare site at Felixstowe.

Mid Suffolk District Council is developing a skate park at Stowmarket, and improving play provision in Stradbroke, Eye and Redgrave. Other schemes include annual children's festivals in Bury St Edmunds, and an adventure play area at Ipswich.

Writer and consultant Tim Gill, told the meeting that misassumptions about the risks to children had led to dull sterile play spaces, but things were now going “in the right direction”.

“The timing of this changing climate couldn't be better. It's the job of adults to help children grow and learn and make their way through life without the threat of unacceptable risks. A playground is not a place of absolute safety. It is a place where we strike the balance,” he said.

The new strategy lists raising the profile of play in Suffolk and challenging negative perceptions and views about children's play, among its aims. Future actions include encouraging traffic management giving youngsters priority over traffic to allow for more street play where possible.

Patricia O'Brien, county council portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services, said: “This play strategy is an exciting opportunity to encourage those in influential roles to develop co-ordinated services to support play for all children and young people in Suffolk.”

The Play Matters strategy can be downloaded from Suffolk County Council's website at www.suffolk.gov.uk/play

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