Play plan aims to boost local children’s health

Braidside Integrated Primary School and their artwork display
Braidside Integrated Primary School and their artwork display

A new initiative aimed at improving the health and fitness of children in the Ballymena area has been launched by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

The new strategy entitled ‘Out to Play’ received the backing of Mayor Audrey Wales who said: “Play has been proven to increase imagination, improve social skills, reduce stress and improve physical skills including strength, coordination and balance, so it is a major focus for Council.”

Gracehill Primary School and their artwork display

Gracehill Primary School and their artwork display

At the beginning of 2017, the Council extended an invitation to all schools in the Borough to get involved in a consultation process around ‘Out to Play’ and six schools were chosen - St Anthony’s Primary School; Gracehill Primary School; Glynn Primary School; Braidside Integrated Primary School; Carrickfergus Central Primary School and Millquarter Primary School.

The pupils worked alongside a facilitator, Dawn Aston, and enjoyed outdoor workshops and creative sessions to identify what they like about their area, what they think could be improved and how young people spend their free time.

Cllr Wales continued: “The strategy is being developed by talking to and working with children, parents, the local community and partner organisations and always checking back to ensure we are doing it right.

“Play also benefits the community by involving children in creative and positive activities, helping reduce anti-social behaviour and reducing the risk of crime.

“Play facilities become a focal point for the community, families are better supported and young people are helped to prepare for adult life,” she added.

“The pupils created a wonderful display to showcase their thoughts which was presented at the launch event. The pupil’s opinions are very important to us and will help shape the strategy.” Cllr Wales concluded.

Council would also like to hear everyone’s views on current play provision in the Borough, and are particularly keen to hear from younger residents.

Interested parties can complete a short survey online at: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/meaplay and Council’s Play Development Officer will also be out and about this summer chatting to park users.