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It's a play date! - Parents urged to have fun with children on November 20

Published:Wednesday | November 7, 2018 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/ Staff Reporter
Qwayne Basco, age five, who attends Seaward Primary School, plays with this toy car with a broken wheel during PlayMattersJA, held at Maxfield Park Children’s Home yesterday.

Parents, educators and caregivers are being asked to make a play date with children on November 20, as the day will be designated National Play Day each year going forward.

The day was conceptualised by several stakeholders who yesterday expressed concern that Jamaica's children are not playing enough because of several issues, including the fact that there are not enough safe play spaces for them.

Speaking during a forum to discuss #playmattersja yesterday at the Maxfield Park Children's Home, minister of state in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Alando Terrelonge, noted that children have become very passive.

"A lot of children, they are on the tablets, they are on the cell phones, they are on the computers," he said.

"Play is important because play gets you to be physical, and when children are physical, they are physically better, as in they are healthier. So play is an important way to combat obesity," he added.

Chairman of the Maxfield Park Children's Home, Emprezz Golding, made a special appeal for men to play with their children given the numerous benefits such activity can yield.

"We are also advocating for set playgrounds for children everywhere," she said.

November 20 is also National Children's Day, and education specialist with UNICEF Jamaica, Dr Rebecca Tortello, hopes that persons will go into schools on that day and spend time with children the way they do for Read Across Jamaica Day.

"It is a right of all children, and we need to facilitate it more in school and out of school," she said.

The day was endorsed by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Talk Up Yout' and the Seprod Foundation.

Educator and commissioner at the ECC, Rachael McDonald, said contrary to popular belief, playing is not a waste of time.

"For far too long, people right across the world, not just in Jamaica, have sort of just minimised play. They thought that play has been synonymous with time-wasting and has had zero academic value and today I am here to tell you that nothing don't go so, that is a lie," she said.