Children take power of play to heart of Westminster


Hundreds of children from across the capital converged in joyful noisy chaos on Parliament Square in Westminster on June 11 to mark the first ever International Day of Play. They came with banners and musical instruments, in costumes and face paint, ready with chants and pre-written speeches calling for play to get the priority it deserves, in London and across the country.

The London Parade for Play was organised by the charity London Play and looped its noisy way from Parliament Square, up Whitehall and past 10 Downing Street, before heading to the river and back to the square via Victoria Embankment.

Outside Downing Street kids had a message for the next Prime Minister: PM stands for ‘Play Matters’! Their chants echoed up and down Whitehall: “What do we want? PLAY! When do we want it? EVERY DAY!”

On returning to Parliament Square it was Sadiq Khan, the newly re-elected Mayor of London, that became the focus of children’s calls for change. Addressing the crowd, London Play director Fiona Sutherland highlighted the mayor’s promise to make London the best place in the world to grow up in and asked the children there to send him instructions.

She said:

“We need to make sure that Sadiq understands that ensuring London’s children have the space, time and freedom to play is crucial to his vision. Luckily, I think we have more than a few experts in play here today. Can you help him out with some ideas?”

Children queued up for the chance to speak, just a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament. Some nervously clutched pre-written speeches in their hands, others confidently taking the microphone to improvise. Their message was consistent: play really matters.

Molly 11 said:

“When I play, I feel like I’m in a whole different world. A better one.”

Kaidan, 11 said:

“We need more playgrounds, more soft play. And more children can go to adventure playgrounds so that London is the best in the world!!”

Leyla, 9 added:

“We should use all the tax money to make more parks… So less people will be on their electronics and get more exercise.”

Chisom 11, simply said

“Play is indescribable!”

Children also added written instructions, pictures and design ideas to a giant scroll headed up ‘Steps to a Playful London’, which will be delivered to the mayor in the days to come. Some of the messages included: Freedom for all kids! More adventure playgrounds. Better playgrounds. Streets that are safe for play. A young mayor for play. And a ‘proper plan’ to make sure all that happens. Oh, and Pokémon cards everywhere!

London Play chair Melian Mansfield also read out a message of support from London’s Deputy Mayor for Children and Young People, Joanne McCartney:

“I am delighted to support the first ever International Day of Play which will have a very positive impact on children and young people across our city. As the Mayor of London has said, we want London to be the best city in the world to grow up in. So, a huge thank you to London Play, who takes on the crucial role of keeping the value of play at the top of the agenda. Now most importantly – good luck with the event and have fun!”

London Play will be meeting with the Mayor’s team soon to discuss ways of including children’s views in future plans for the capital.


For more information about the International Day of Play and London Play’s manifesto for play, download the press release below.

London Parade for Play press release
London Play Press Releases
London Play is calling on the next Mayor of London to make the capital the best city in the world to grow up in, by ensuring every child has the space, time, and freedom to play outside, near to where they live.
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