Belfast Telegraph

Belfast City Hall becomes a playpark

The grounds of Belfast City Hall have been turned in to a giant children’s playground to encourage youngsters to play outside more.

KidSpace was organised by Belfast Healthy Cities (BHC), a World Health Organisation body, to provide free activities on the City Hall lawn between 11am and 4pm during today’s mid-term break.

In a recent BHC survey, 30% of schoolchildren from across Belfast said they preferred to play outdoors after school and 66% named either ‘the street’ or ‘the park’ as their favourite place to play.

However, when asked how often they play in the park, 29% said once each week while 28% responded once per month.

The main reasons for not playing outdoors are ‘fear of bullying’, ‘not safe’ or ‘nowhere to go’.

Director of BHC, Joan Devlin, said that providing supervised outdoor space at City Hall was meeting children’s wishes.

“KidSpace illustrates the need for Belfast to identify specific child-friendly spaces, which |are very common in many |European cities,” she said.

“Children have told us they want to play outdoors but there are barriers to their doing |so.

“Our children need to be given ownership of spaces and encouraged to use space in their own creative way.

“It helps them develop fully and healthily and to experience how it is to be a valued member of the community.”

Belfast Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson welcomed the initiative.

“We are proud that Belfast is an inclusive city and it is important to acknowledge that City Hall belongs to us all, and that includes the children of Belfast,” he said.

The event is open to families and children of all ages and abilities, although a key requirement is that children must be accompanied by an adult.

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