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Call for better children's play

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New research showing that children face restricted opportunities for adventurous play has prompted calls for councils to build better play areas.

An ICM poll by charity Play England found that half of children (51%) aged 7-12 were not allowed to climb a tree without adult supervision. Almost half (49%) said they had been stopped from climbing trees because it was considered too dangerous.

The research found that, as children, 70% of adults enjoyed most of their adventures in natural outdoor environments. This compares with only 29% today as both the space and the freedom to roam has 'dramatically declined'.

Researchers said that, today, children's experiences of adventure are confined to designated areas such as playgrounds at 56%, homes (48%) or theme parks (44%).

The findings have led the charity to urge local authorities to weigh up safety risks with the important role that adventure playgrounds and play areas play in helping a child's ability to tackle challenges.

Adrian Voce, director of Play England, said councils had been overzealous on health and safety concerns and wary of litigation from parents of injured children.

"There has been a trend to erring on the side of safety at the expense of fun and adventure. Starting from their earliest play experiences, children both need and want to push their boundaries in order to explore their limits and develop their abilities.

"Children would never learn to walk, climb stairs or ride a bicycle unless they were strongly motivated to respond to challenges - but we must accept that these things inevitably involve an element risk.”

The charity produces various guides for creating successful play areas.

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