5 November 2017
For the past two years the International Play Association (IPA) has been immersed in a research project focused on children’s Access to Play in Crisis (APC).

Project teams have spent time with children and families in six diverse locations (Thailand, Nepal, India, Turkey, Lebanon and Japan) working to understand the mechanisms through which children exercise their right to play when faced with various forms of crisis. A rich body of information has been produced and will be available in various formats and on IPA’s website (IPAworld.org).

The APC findings challenge many preconceptions surrounding play, such as where there is or isn’t opportunity to play (‘sneaking’ the chance to play appears to be pretty universal coping mechanism), and what makes a ‘good’ environment for play (many children are growing up in the worst living conditions in Kolkata but are agile, inventive, and happy – yet barred from a local park due to discrimination).

There are two significant and stubborn challenges – 1) the varying levels of understanding of the importance of play in children’s lives and very different interpretations of what we mean by play (IPA uses the UN Committee on the Right of the Child definition, GC17, 2013); and, 2) the prevailing trend to accept de facto the greater importance of adult-organised recreational and educational activities.

IPA believes it has taken a useful first step but we are now even more conscious of the need for a ladder of actions leading to policy and programmatic change. There is still much work to be done.