Maribor's children attend European Playwork Association's Play Day

Photo: European Commission

An international congress of the European Playwork Association was recently held in Maribor. The association is an international non-governmental youth organisation and is active in more than 30 countries worldwide. Among other things it creates conditions for free play and intercultural understanding, and through networking combines cooperation and action. Ksenija Samardzija Matul from Radio Slovenia International attended one of the highlights of its congress - Play Day:

It is not that common any more for children to play from morning till night -- that they run, jump and make up stories. Today, video games, computers and an overscheduled life are typical for children. So what is the modern view on children?

"The modern view of children is quite consumer oriented. The importance of childhood as well as the importance of play is neglected. There is actually no longer any time for playing. Everything is directed towards certain goals, towards productivity. People tend to forget that children carry potential and creativity in themselves, but there is no space for them to realize them. The purpose of Play Day is actually very simple, to play. Enjoy and at the same time to learn, because we believe that playing is equal to learning."

...Janez Arh of the Youth Aid centre Association in Maribor and one of the organizers on the idea behind Play Day.

Photo: European Commission
Christa Berta Kimmich of the European Playwork Association helped organize the congress and Play Day:

"We are very happy that we have been invited. Play workers and workers, who work in communities in 27 countries from Buenos Aires to Beirut, have come here and are learning from each other, sharing experiences. A Play Day means a day, when we as colleagues and workers from different countries come together and share our different games that we are playing - it is usually non competitive games - that means games, where all children can get involved and where we have lots of fun, but mostly I think it is a day where we can share smiles."

The role of play in children's lives must not be neglected, as interactive playing helps in the development of intellectual, social, emotional and physical abilities and play is a very important part of children's live as Christa Berta Kimmich explains:

Adults play an important part because in the modern world children are often denied enough space to play, according to Christa Kimmich. So do they have enough opportunities to play?

"They do have opportunities but far too little and especially the space is very limited, very confined and we have got to make sure - that is the adults who are town planners, architects, politically responsible people, everybody who is involved in it - to create play spaces. It means literally a space but also an atmosphere where they can play without being under threat, without being pushed and without being too much exposed to rules and to limits. We as adults have got to create conditions for children to play."

Much has been said about the importance of play and the creation of play spaces for children in order to help them develop precious social and physical skills. One of the girls of the international company taking part in Play Day in Maribor told us in her own words what this day means to her:

"The Play Day is very good for children, because play is making children more open and happy and it helps develop their imagination, creation and their self confidence and skills."