Northern Ireland news

Hundreds of children gathered in Belfast to celebrate National Playday

PlayBoard Northern Ireland's CEO, Jacqueline O'Loughlin and Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People enjoy the fun in the park during the celebrate at Ormeau Park Belfast. Picture: Hugh Russell.
Áine Quinn

HUNDREDS of children gathered in a Belfast park yesterday as part of a campaign that highlights the importance of play.

Playboard Northern Ireland invited children to Ormeau Park to celebrate their right to play on the 31st anniversary of National Playday. During the event, they participated in a variety of activities, ranging from dressing up and face painting, to arts and crafts and den building.

The Children's Right to Play is outlined in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It recognises every child's right to rest, leisure, play, to enjoy recreational activities and a free and full participation in cultural and artistic life.

PlayBoard Northern Ireland's CEO, Jacqueline O'Loughlin highlighted the importance of play for children in their development, and how it can improve their lives.

“It goes without saying that play is fun, but it is important to recognise that play is also a way of remaining healthy and well; a way to make friends and meet new people; a way to learn about the world around us; a way of connecting communities; a way to develop new skills and knowledge and a way for children to challenge themselves,” she said.

Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People that although it is essential, not all children have adequate opportunities for play available to them.

"Some children feel they do not have enough time to play because of things like schoolwork," she said.

"Sometimes spaces to play do not always meet children's needs, particularly if they have a disability or they are teenagers. Additionally our busy modern life can sometimes mean that taking the time to play isn't prioritised by adults."

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