Friday, April 4

£235m Government Strategy with a Fundamental Flaw

Money wasted on play areas while kids play indoors.

The British government has announced spending of £235m on 3,500 new play areas for the community, but has no plan on how to get kids off the playstation and into the parks. There are two parks near me, I have never noticed kids playing there. Sure the territory gets claimed by gangs of teenagers later in the evening, but I guess this wont help reverse the childhood obesity crisis.

I took these pictures at around 7pm today, the weather being great for being outdoors, but can you see any children in the pictures using the facilities? No, there are no kids using the play areas. So why do we need more areas when the ones we have are not being used? So my small survey was not scientific but neither is the governments plan based on anything substantial. The plan (now the descision has been made) is to ask kids and parents what they want in these areas. Xbox 360 may be top of the wish list!

The reason children are not playing outside is it because games consoles are more fun and less effort. Kids would rather play video games than go outside. No amount of new play areas will change that. I have seen this first hand with my own children, and that is where the idea of Gamercize came from. The addition of physical effort to gaming with Gamercize has naturally reduced their hours spent on the playstation and given them increased confidence and an appetite for outside play.

The only problem I found is that when the kids decided they wanted to play outside our existing play facilities were poorly maintained. My children and I went to the park to play basketball, only to find the court covered in broken beer bottles. Even after sweeping the area, small shards of glass got picked up by the ball and we all ended up with cuts.

Since then I have bought a basketball hoop for the garden and that’s a far better option. The government needs to understand this experience. Spend the money on getting the current facilities maintained and formulate a plan to get the existing play areas used. When the current play areas are being used and there is demand for more; that is the right time to build more.

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