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International Day of Play now officially recognized by the UN

As it was recently officially declared by the United Nations, we celebrate International Day of Play for the first time today, on June 11. In collaboration with UNICEF over the past two years, this day has been unofficially celebrated on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The importance of play and free time is one of the rights in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, further confirmed through the UN's decision to make this an official day. UNICEF welcomes this: for children, play is serious business and fundamental to their development. 


The power of play

Play, both offline and online, is an important foundation for children's future. Recent UN research shows that only 1 in 4 children still play outside regularly. In part, this makes it all the more important that more attention is paid to play with this UN Day of Play. Children learn best through play. It is good for several areas of development, namely their intellectual, social, emotional and physical development. For example, through play, children learn to make connections with others, build leadership skills, develop resilience and overcome their fears. 


Environment of influence 

The environment in which children grow up also plays an important role in facilitating play. Ample green space, challenging playgrounds, and calm traffic are important to promote outdoor play. Much can also be gained in children's digital environments; this can be made more fun, fairer, safer, more educational, and promising for children. UNICEF Netherlands emphasizes the role of adults to ensure that children can play more in their environment while contributing to children's well-being.


Making time for play and connecting

Play is also very important for the connection between parent and child. With a special month on parenthood and upbringing, UNICEF is paying extra attention to the bond between parents and their children in June. This year's theme is “The Promise of Playful Parenting”, in order to draw more attention to play among parents as well. Busy schedules, financial constraints and other obstacles can make it challenging for families to prioritize play. With the Quality Time campaign, UNICEF Netherlands is using a video series to show that spending time together can be found in little things. Here, families on Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustatius show how they experience the importance of playing (together). This month, UNICEF is also sharing even more inspiration via its Facebook account UNICEF Dutch Caribbean, and parents are exchanging tips on parenting and playing with children which can be found here: Facebook.

UNICEF Netherlands is also committed to encouraging neighborhoods to become more child-friendly through exchanges within the Child Friendly Cities program, in which St. Eustatius participates. UNICEF would like to inspire municipalities to invest in this. This year, for the International Day of Play, UNICEF Netherlands sent suitcases full of games to the three islands to celebrate play on this day. A drawing activity was also sent to schools so that children can show what their favorite moment of play is on June 11. From now on, June 11 will be dedicated to play every year, further fulfilling the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, it is important for children to play every day.

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