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Play and Recreation

One of the national outcomes in Better Outcomes Brighter Futures: National Policy framework for children and young people 2013-2020, is the active and healthy physical and mental wellbeing of all children. This outcome requires initiatives that enable children to enjoy play, recreation, sport, arts culture and nature.

The Citizen Participation, Play, Recreation and Culture Unit oversees the implementation by local authorities of the National Play Policy and National Recreation Policy, and administers a Capital Grant Scheme for Play and Recreation.

(i) Play and Recreation Policy

Ready, Steady, Play: A National Play Policy

Ready, Steady Play: A National Play Policy was published in 2004 to provide a framework for the development of public play facilities in Ireland. The policy covered the period 2004-2008, with the overall aim of ensuring that children have access to a range of quality play opportunities to enrich their childhood.

Objectives of the Play Policy

The following objectives were set out in the policy:

•    To give children a voice in the design and implementation of play policies and facilities;
•    To raise awareness of the importance of play;
•    To ensure that children’s play needs are met through the development of a child-friendly environment;
•    To maximise the range of public play opportunities available to all children, particularly children who are marginalized, disadvantaged or who have a disability;
•    To improve the quality and safety of playgrounds and play areas;

Teenspace; National Recreation Policy for Young People

The National Recreation Policy for Young People was published in September 2007 and covers a ten year period. The policy provides a strategic framework for the promotion of positive recreational opportunities aimed principally at young people aged 12 to 18. The policy adopts an evidence-based approach and makes proposals to address issues which emerged from a public consultation process and through the findings of independent research commissioned to assist the development of the Policy.

The policy also aims to provide strategic direction to Government departments, local authorities, Local Authorities, the youth sector, the community and voluntary sectors, and other interested parties, to develop recreational opportunities for young people in an informed and appropriate manner.

There are seven objectives set for the National Recreation Policy

•    Give young people a voice in the design, implementation and monitoring of recreation policies and facilities
•    Promote organised activities for young people and examine ways to motivate them to be involved
•    Ensure that the recreational needs of young people are met through the development of youth-friendly and safe environments
•    Maximise the range of recreational opportunities available for young people who are marginalised, disadvantaged or who have a disability
•    Promote relevant qualifications/standards in the provision of recreational activities
•    Develop a partnership approach in developing and funding recreational opportunities across the statutory, community and voluntary sectors
•    Improve information on , evaluation and monitoring of recreation al provision of young people in Ireland


(ii) National Play Day and National Recreation Week

 National Play Day

Since 2011, the DCYA has provided annual funding to support National Play Day. The aim of National Play Day is to help increase public awareness of the importance of play. Grants(maximum of €650) are offered to Local Authorities to organise activities that promote a theme that is decided by DCYA and the Local Authority Play and Recreation Network. The theme for National Play Day 2015 was ‘natural play’ and applications for projects creating opportunities for play that involves natural elements –water, sand, trees, rocks, beaches etc. were invited. A variety of projects were including activities involving water play; sand pits; mud kitchen; making bat boxes using natural materials; sand sculpting; Forest School Activities; family day on the bog; and orienteering in a mixed environment nature park. 22 Local Authorities staged Play Day events in 2015.

 National Recreation Week

National Recreation Week is funded by the DCYA for older children and young people aged 12 upwards. A maximum of €1,700 is available under fund to each Local Authority. The theme for National Recreation week is identified annually by the DCYA and the Local Authority Play and Recreation Network. In 2015 the theme was ‘using the natural environment’ and 23 Local Authorities were funded under the scheme. Among the events funded by DCYA were: orienteering in a forest park; mountain bike trails and using natural environment for team building exercises; using local drift wood and stones from a local beach for a creative workshop; organised beach and woodland walks; archery, canoeing, and dragon boating.

(iii) DCYA Capital Grant Scheme for Play and Recreation

The DCYA capital grant funding scheme for play and recreation provides capital funding to support new and existing play and recreation facilities for children and young people. The total amount of funding made available each year is €250,000. A maximum grant of €20,000 is allocated to each Local Authority. Local Authorities are invited to apply for funding for projects which provide:

New and innovative play and recreation spaces and facilities (New and innovative projects can include new facilities, equipment, designs and /or the utilisation of non- traditional play spaces
Refurbishment or upgrading of existing play and recreation spaces and facilities

The following criteria are required for each application:

•    Play and recreation spaces and facilities must be available for use by all children and young people in the locality at times when they are free to use them i.e. outside of school hours
•    All facilities and equipment must be accessible to children and young people with additional needs
•    All facilities and equipment must be youth-friendly and safe
•    All projects funded under the scheme must provide evidence, or a commitment to providing evidence, that children and young people have been or will be consulted about the project for which funding is requested
•    All projects funded under the scheme must provide confirmation that No Smoking signage will be displayed in play spaces and facilities funded under this scheme. A graphically designed template for this signage will be provided by DCYA to all successful applicants

Under the Capital Grant Scheme for Play and Recreation, 25 awards were made in 2016. The largest award was for €20,000 and the smallest was €1,000.


(iv) Local Authority Play and Recreation Network (LAPRN)

This group was established in 2012 to introduce a more coordinated and interagency approach to achieving the main goals of the play and recreation policies at both national and local level. The member of the group are key Local Authority managers and staff responsible for the local delivery of play and recreation services in communities across the country.

In 2014 the DCYA co-hosted a training seminar for the members of the LAPRN which discussed the benefits and challenges of natural play with particular reference to the provision of public play spaces and facilities. The learning from this seminar informed the choice of theme for National Play Day and National Recreation Week 2015, which focused attention on the natural environment as a facility and source of materials for play and recreation.

National Recreation Week and National Play Day are promoted and developed through the partnership between DCYA and the Local Authority Play and Recreation Network (LAPRN), as is the DCYA Capital Grant Scheme for Play and Recreation.

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