Children playing outsideThousands of children across the UK will engage in community events to celebrate today's national day for play [6 August] as new research highlights for the measurable difference play makes to children, families and communities.

Launched to coincide with Playday 2014, The Play Return focuses on the evidence to support play in unstaffed public spaces, staffed out-of-school provision, street play initiatives and school break-times.

Report author Tim Gill said: "At the core of the report is the message that not only does outdoor play impact significantly on the lives of children and young people, it also in many cases can provide a basis for the transformation of wider communities. 

"From the perspective of politicians and policy makers, the report highlights that investing in play can, and does lead to multiple benefits including improved educational attainment, a healthier society and increased levels of tolerance within and between communities."

Further reading: Unwelcoming communities keep children in, says Playday

The report reinforces the Playday campaign messages which highlight the importance of play to the health, well-being, social and educational development of children the benefits for families and communities of children playing outdoors and the importance of play in supporting children to develop essential skills and knowledge as they mature.

Jacqueline O’Loughlin, Chief Executive of Playboard Northern Ireland welcomed the report and said: “As well as being a basic right of childhood play impacts on almost every aspect of children and young people’s lives. That is why this year we have chosen a theme which deliberately allows children and communities to decide what ‘Play is…’to them.

"It goes without saying that play is also a way of remaining healthy and well; a way to make friends and meet new people; a way to learn about the world around us; a way of connecting communities; a way to development new knowledge and skills and a way for children to challenge themselves."