Play In A Time Of Crisis Webinar

International Play Association Awards

At the start of February 2021, we were thrilled to be invited to present our work at the International Play Association’s Play in a Time of Crisis Award webinar series, which showcased projects all over the world that have supported children’s right to play during the pandemic.

What we shared

During the webinar, we spoke about the generosity, joy and limitless creativity we witnessed during Big Porridge & Play Online 2020. As our actor-pedagogues guided families through our Lickety Playcard games, amazing group story improvisation, dressing up and reflective drawing, we saw children break out of lockdown monotony and grow in confidence, becoming a tight-knit group, ready for anything. This was also reflected in the wonderful feedback from children and parents.  

We regularly remind our Children & Families Network that “in our imaginations we can be anyone, go anywhere and do anything” – and this was the basis for the huge, and increasingly amazing, group improvisation activities, using Flying Balloons and the clear favourite, Magic Ball. As well as the sheer, thrilling enjoyment of playing together, we saw our participants gain vital life skills such as the pleasure of reciprocity in play, how to respect and listen to others, how to interact confidently with their peers and grown-ups, and the realisation that all we need to play like this is our imaginations, and each other!

Play across the world!

It was fantastic to hear about the other projects being celebrated by the International Play Association, and especially exciting to see Scotland’s world-leading progress so well represented. Play Scotland spoke about the importance of play for children’s mental health, outlining how their Loose Parts Play project with Dundee’s SCRAPantics helped children to continue to achieve developmental milestones across the crisis.

Ana Lourenço from the Instituto de Apoio à Criança in Portugal described a simple yet effective ‘play stations’ initiative, which helped children play safely at school by creating distanced spaces using paint and vinyl stickers. And we heard about an inspiring online storytelling project by Apalam Chapalam for India-based child rights organisation Leher. They shared a wonderful example of their work, which we think you’ll love – see the video on the right!

Jerry Pinto poem for Apalam Chapalam

Where next for the Right to Play?

As with all our work, Big Porridge & Play Online 2020 was firmly rooted in children’s human rights. The actor-pedagogues communicated their belief in every participant, acting in a non-judgemental, fair and non-preferential manner, supporting children’s rights to be heard and included, to interact with their peers, to join groups, to parental guidance (the intergenerational aspect of our work), and to play. 

We have developed this rights-based work even further through our Have Your Say Through Play project, which most recently supported the Scottish Government’s Rights and Participation team as they prepare to incorporate the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child into Scottish law – a landmark moment for children’s rights in Scotland. Through a series of Child Consultations, we used our group play framework to allow children to express how they felt about the coronavirus pandemic and their rights! 

As this significant policy is incorporated this week, we’re excited about exploring further ways Storyplay can be used to promote children’s rights and educate adults about the value of play, and how to listen to and engage with children in a meaningful way.

Our Children’s Rights Play Consultations

“Taking part in games and songs about children’s rights it was clear to me that even the youngest children can get a handle on their rights if the communication is appropriate.”

Gillian Martin MSP, Have Your Say Through Play Consultation

“It’s listening to children directly like this that makes the job worthwhile. Really interesting to see how the medium of play can help children open up and share their thoughts, concerns and aspirations G, Rights & Participation team”

G, Scot Gov Rights & Participation Team, Have Your Say Through Play Pilot

Find out more

Read about the Children’s Rights Cakes we baked at our Storyplay City sessions.