European Parliament Debate Showcases Benefits of Play

30 May 2013

Toy industry stakeholders, childhood experts, policymakers and others celebrated “World Play Day” in Brussels, Belgium on 28 May with a debate that focused on the role of play as a basic need for children and its essential impact on their well-being, development, and learning.

Hosted by the European Parliament and supported by Toy Industries of Europe (TIE), “Taking Play Seriously: Investing in Europe's Future” discussed parameters that inhibit opportunities for play among children and the need for improved government frameworks and structures worldwide that promote access to fruitful play experiences.

Debate participants discussed threats to a child’s ability to play, including urbanization, stress of family life, and changes to the educational system, as outlined by Dr. David Whitebread, a psychology and education professor at the University of Cambridge whose research on the importance of play was presented at the event.

Among the calls to action recommended by attendees was a request to launch an informal European Union (EU) platform to raise awareness about the benefits of play and to encourage EU Member States to increase opportunities for children to realize their full potential through playful and creative activities.

“Playing is very important for children to learn, communicate, socialize and develop,” said Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and debate organizer. “Learning and playing go hand in hand.”

Catherine Van Reeth, Director General of TIE, spoke about the value of play for society as a whole, and urged EU policymakers to view investments in quality play opportunities as an “investment in Europe’s future.”

As a TIE and U.S. Toy Industry Association (TIA) member, The LEGO Group participated in the debate to share a toy company’s outlook on the value of play. According to Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of The LEGO Group, the event accurately highlighted “the negative consequences of a lack of play for children” while underlining the important relationship between play and learning in the educational system.

“We believe it is a challenge that needs responses and opening up a broad discussion on potential solutions is a crucial first step in addressing the challenge,” said Knudstorp.

More information about the event can be found on the TIE and The LEGO Group websites. A video from the event is available for viewing on YouTube.

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