Súgradh provides support and a national forum for the promotion of play opportunities for children in Ireland.
The aim of Súgradh is to promote and protect children’s play as a fundamental human right of all children in Ireland in line with Article 31 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child.
The guiding principle of Súgradh is that play provision and play services should be child centred with equality of access and provision for all children.
Súgradh provides advice on play for the school-aged child and on developing playgrounds and play services. We carry out research on play provision and run workshops and seminars on aspects of play.
The objectives of Súgradh are:
Members include children’s organisations, play providers, local authorities and individuals.
Súgradh is a member of the International Association for the Child’s Right to Play (IPA), the European Network on Children’s Play, the European Network of Child-Friendly Cities and the Children’s Rights Alliance.
- To raise awareness and understanding of the essential role which play has in a child’s development, and especially the role of ‘free play’, free of adult supervision and intervention.
- To provide a representative forum for children’s play in Ireland.
- To support local groups in providing opportunities for children’s play.
- To identify training needs in play work and to provide for those needs in liaison with other relevant bodies.
- To work towards the co-ordination (-and coherence) of policy, practice and provision of opportunities for children’s play.
- To promote standards in the provision, design and management of play facilities, including standards, which ensure that the built environment is more responsive to the needs of children.
- To promote genuine consultation with children about their play needs.
Súgradh’s Policy on Play:
Play services or play environments should be available free of charge to all children.
Play opportunities should be provided for children irrespective of background, ability, religion, race or culture.
All play and recreation programmes should be respectful of all children, free of exploitation, bullying, violence, unsafe practices and discrimination.
Play provision needs to reflect both the age and stage of development of the child.
The application of standards is a key way to ensure that children play in a situation which is safe, well maintained and appropriate. For capital items, standards cover the design, construction, maintenance and management of play facilities. For play services, standards would cover training, staffing and equipment requirements.
Training needs to be provided for all staff working with play; this includes those working directly or indirectly with children at play, whether in a professional or voluntary capacity.
It should be recognized that children play wherever and whenever they need to and not just in designated play spaces or playgrounds. In planning the design of our built environments we must provide both designated play situations designed to meet the play needs of children and young people as well as recognising that children will need safe and informal play opportunities within their communities.
Therefore, to realistically provide for children’s play and recreation, our national and local environmental planning guidelines must contain measures ensuring that our villages, towns and cities become child friendly environments.
Funding, from both statutory bodies and the community is essential if play is to be provided which is free, accessible and inclusive.
Anne O’Brien – Farewell to a Great Friend and Colleague!
Anne O’Brien passed away in December after a long battle against cancer at the age of 59.
Until her retirement last September, Anne worked as the Play Development Officer for Dublin City Council in the Community Section.
A good point to start in remembering such a wonderful friend and colleague would be in 1980’s and the great times had by all in many of Dublin’s Playcentres; Memories of times spent working with Anne are ones of discovery and enlightenment, encouragement, at times decadent and ‘different’ but most of all fun. There was quite a gang of us working in DCC Playcentres and those times were probably the best of our lives, a large proportion of that, thanks to Anne.
Anne was talented in so many ways. Her love of fabrics was evident in the wonderful Patchwork Quilt’s she created, not to mention the amazing Dragon from Ballyfermot Playground which took pride of place in the first Dublin Street Carnival. She was also a dab hand at floral arrangements and produced some amazing displays for friends and colleagues weddings. Her infamous love of the ‘bop’ at the ‘end of summer’ nights out, Christmas, birthdays or just for the sake of it involved her command of the full expanse of the dance floor in one nightclub or another, it didn’t really matter what was playing as long as it was loud and had a rhythm and a beat Anne danced to it and boy did she dance!.
Anne’s commitment to working with children and young people eventually led her to work in Play Development, becoming the country’s first Play Development Officer. This role empowered her to progress further in her mission to support children’s rights where as she was highly instrumental in the development of the ‘Dublin City Play Plan’ 2012 – 2017.
For many years to come Anne’s name will be heard on occasions when we encounter events and initiatives that advocate for children’s play.
Working and/or befriending Anne, you ‘lived, learned, loved and were happy’ long before that book was written. Anne, you’re up there with the other great ones , you picked a great gang for a party; Mandela, Joan Fontayne, Peter O’Toole, Lou reed, Seamus Heaney, James Gandolfini and Gus Central Park Zoo’s Polar Bear (ha!)…. but none of them will ever mean as much, make such a difference in our lives or be half as powerful or as much fun as you Anne O’Brien , thank you our ‘Mary Poppins with attitude’ for helping us to see the ‘raindrops on the roses’ you have and will always be one of our ‘favorite things’!
Anne is survived by her husband Louis, stepchildren Shane, Maureen, Ger and Marian. She is also survived by her loving mother Anne; brothers Paddy and Conor and sister Maria, together with Sean, Gill, Simone and step grandchildren Ben, Katie, Luke and Aoibheann.