One in three children in Northern Ireland don’t have enough places to play, according to a survey.

A third say increased traffic outside their house is a problem and almost half say they don’t get as much time to play as they would like.

In a poll for PlayBoard NI, 90% of respondents said play time is important, with 84% saying it makes them happy and 82% highlighting the fun they enjoy.

The insights come ahead of the first International Day of Play on June 11. It is aimed at highlighting the positive impact of play on children and young people’s lives while calling on governments to prioritise opportunities for play.

PlayBoard NI chief executive Alan Herron said the Assembly must develop a strategy to help children and young people get the most from their formative years.

“In its most recent concluding observation, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child identified a number of key actions for the NI Assembly,” he said.

“These included the development of a resourced play strategy aimed at increasing play opportunities, greater integration of play within school curricula, increasing access to inclusive play for children with disabilities, and providing safer spaces for play in communities.

“PlayBoard’s survey has highlighted the need for action in order to improve access and opportunities for developmentally critical play.”

He added: “We are calling for wider recognition of the importance of play in children and young people’s lives, as well as a commitment to delivering improved play opportunities.

“The development of a dedicated play strategy is a critical step in this process and we strongly urge our political representatives to show leadership on this issue.”

PlayBoard NI chief executive officer Alan Herron is calling for Assembly action

PlayBoard NI is delivering an information session for MLAs at Parliament Buildings, focusing on how the Assembly can deliver improved play opportunities.

In its two-week survey, which was completed online by 150 participants aged up to 18 in NI, PlayBoard asked about the importance of play, how participants they like to play and what stops them from playing as much as they would like.

The vast majority (90%) of respondents said that play was an important part of their lives, with over three-quarters (77%) saying they like to be active.

Some 43% said they enjoy playing in natural spaces, 42% noted they enjoy creating and making things during play, 35% said they enjoy hanging out with friends and 26% specified that they enjoy tech-based play.

Asked why play was so important, 84% said it made them happy, 82% said play was fun and 50% said it was important for making friends.

Some 55% said play helped them to keep physically active, with 48% enjoying being outside.

The poll asked what prevents children and young people playing as much as they would like.

Almost half (48%) said they did not have enough time for play, 32% said there were too few places for play time in their area, 28% noted they had very few other children to play with locally, and 27% said increased traffic prevented them from playing in their area.

Children and young people were also asked what would help them to play more often.

More time to play was identified by 48%, while 42% said a need for more spaces or places to play in their local area. Nearly a third (31%) mentioned a need for safer spaces to play.