Conduct Signature Campaign Demanding their Right to Play
On 30 April 2015 children and staff from 20 child rights organizations in Delhi distributed leaflets demanding their right to play and collected signatures endorsing their demand from the public at 40 metro stations of Delhi. The event which began in the morning concluded at Rajiv Chowk metro station gates in Connaught Place at 4:00 pm where all the children came together to distribute kite shaped leaflets and collected signatures endorsing their demand from people at Connaught Place. The aim is to collect 25,000 signatures which along with a memorandum will be submitted to the Chief Minister of Delhi, Shri Arvind Kejriwal. The leaflets had children questioning the limited space & time available for them to play due to restrictions by parents, Resident Welfare Association (RWAs) in parks, schools and sports bodies. The children also questioned the safety and accessibility of existing public grounds, sports complexes, which force them to play in streets & alleyways thus putting them in danger of being hit by vehicles (leaflet below).
The children demanded that families should allow every child including girls to come out & play. Children also wanted schools to include a sports period everyday with adequate sports material and sports teachers available. Further, all sports complexes & stadiums should be open & free for children to play and all play grounds should be safe & secure.
In spite of the importance given by researches from a range of disciplines including education, psychology, philosophy, medicine and anthropology, millions of children are denied opportunities for play and recreation due to varying reasons like war, diseases, abilities, lack of safe spaces and a clear urban and rural development policy that demarcates spaces for play and sports or recognition of the importance or misconceptions on play and recreational activities in the overall development of a child. Against this backdrop, Butterflies has been running a campaign, ‘Children’s Right to Play’ since 2010 with an objective to bring this issue into the mainstream of national discourse on child rights.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Rita Panicker, Executive Director, Butterflies said, “There was a time when children spent most of their leisure time playing outside, inventing games, and parents encouraged children to go out and play. However, today parents are scared to send children out to play as the open spaces are not safe anymore. Furthermore technology has invaded the lives of children, and made them addicted to their smart phones, internet and television. It is also a fact that open safe spaces are shrinking in urban India. There needs to be a clear policy direction on urban planning that ensures there are adequate parks, playgrounds for children and adolescents.”
Play, recreation and sports are considered to be cornerstone of children’s health and well-being and researchers have found its positive impact on the life of children. Playing together provides opportunities for social, moral as well as emotional development hence counts as a vehicle for personality development. Research reports of Butterflies have also been helped to bring out the issues pertaining to children’s right to play especially in the city of Delhi.
A survey presented by children from Delhi Child Rights Club (DCRC) in 2010, revealed that even though Delhi has 14,000 parks & open spaces, majority of them have become inaccessible for children. Several of them have also been taken over by Resident Welfare Associations and made into ornamental parks, have become parking lots, garbage dumps or considered unsafe for children as they are frequented by substance abusers and anti-social elements. The study also revealed that street, working and vulnerable children in the city are denied access to playgrounds and other recreation facilities. Reduction in number of playgrounds, availability of play areas and equipment, children’s addition to television and computers were also noticed as issues related with children’s right to play in the urban landscape.
“Play not only helps in mental & physical well being of an individual but also erodes the boundaries of caste, colour, religion, & gender. Parental pressure, excessive emphasis on academic performance has diverted children’s attention from play and due to pressure of performance in schools, children have involuntarily withdrawn into their shells. Children must be given access to all public places- gardens, sports facilities. Creation of children’s forum in RWAs must be made compulsory for integrating interest of children in RWA’s agenda”, added Ms. Panicker.
We Want Space & Time to Play
Children and Play go together. To be out playing makes us happy and healthy. It is fun making up new games. While playing we unknowingly learn many lessons of life like fair play, team work, respecting rules and others, facing and handling successes and failures. We know if we spend most of our leisure time playing with the mobile or watching TV it will destroy both our health and IQ.
Why don’t we play? Stop, think and look around……
Where should we play?
In street corners & alleys – where there is always a danger of being hit by vehicles.
In parks – which are so beautiful….. but the gates have a notice saying a big NO to play or a rude guard standing there who does not allow us to go inside and play.
In Public Grounds- which are so dirty & unsafe and visited by not so nice people.
In stadiums & sports complexes- which are too expensive and far from our houses
We Want our Right to Play –
Families- should allow every child including girls to come out and play.
RWAs- should allow ball games in the parks. We promise we will ensure the safety of senior citizens and park property.
Schools- should include a sports period everyday, adequate sports material and sports teachers.
Government- all sports complexes & stadiums should be open & free for us to play. All play grounds should be safe & secure.
From Delhi Child Rights Club Children
Angaja Foundation, Alamb, Asha Deep Foundation, Bal Sahyog, Butterflies, CASP Delhi Unit, Chetanalaya, Deepalaya, Delhi Brotherhood Society, Don Bosco Ashalayam, Indian Council for Child Welfare, Institute of Social Service – Prabhat Tara, Jamghat, Navjyoti India Foundation , Protsahan India Foundation, Salaam Baalak Trust, Shades of Happiness Foundation, Udyam Trust, YWCA of Delhi –RDP, YWCA of Delhi -UDP.
Contact:– Delhi Child Rights Club, c/o Butterflies, U-4, Green Park Extension, New Delhi.
Delhi Child Rights Club is an alliance of 20 NGOs in Delhi working for child rights and has been mobilizing children towards advocating for their rights.