What are your memories of playing as a child? Some of us will remember hide and seek, kho kho, gully cricket, hopscotch and many other games. Others may recollect arguing about rules for stick ball or taking turns batting, or creating imaginary worlds with our dolls, putting on plays or dressing up. From long summer days to after school hours, play was an integral part of every childhood story.
But this isn’t the story of children today. Amidst a 10-month pandemic, this most important right has been snatched away. Play has proven to be powerful, especially in the time of a crisis, but it still remains a highly underused strategy to help children cope and thrive. School closure, physical distancing requirements and home confinement as a result of COVID-19 have dramatically reduced young children’s access to early learning and play opportunities, appropriate care and wellbeing, and negatively impacted the ability parents and caregivers to provide this critical care. Compounded by lost livelihoods, stress of the future, violence at home, and the disruption of a normal life. This makes play more vital and urgent than ever before.
For the next fortnight, let’s hear what children from our communities have to say, learn how parents and families have reinvented to make sure children have access, and understand how limited play impacts the lives of children.