Play Scotland asks for more space for play

At the beginning of Playday week, Calum Duncan, Chair of Play Scotland asks for more space for play

Even while restrictions are being relaxed, and children no longer have the need to distance, being playful remains crucial. Play is a vital and simple way for families and siblings to feel connected; it is a tonic in the face of anxiety, and it is a way of exploring ideas as an opportunity for intuitive learning.

However, we are challenged by good appropriate space, inside and out, for everyone to play and explore. As restrictions are lifting, traffic is significantly increasing again on our streets. However, public transport remains restricted, and soon more people will be gradually returning to places of work.

Local authorities are expanding the provision of space for pedestrians and cyclists to maintain distancing, and we would encourage these improvements to be implemented as extensively and boldly as possible. Space is needed for children and young people to PLAY, as well as all of us to get fresh air and exercise.

In built up areas, parks and greenspace are already under pressure, and we can extend this space within our towns and cities through appropriate road closures for play, walking and exercise.

This could be roads which are next to parks and schools, even rewilding some of these streets, or considering new connections to woodlands and greenspace which are currently not available or less known. A busy road junction adjacent to schools could be transformed into an expanded playground space, whilst calming car use too. A stretch of residential street could be closed where residents have limited or no gardens.

Closed sections of roads can become space to play on bikes, skateboard, chalk drawing, clowning, games and ball games between siblings, play musical instruments, or to simply relax and escape the indoors with space to breathe.

In the UK overall, 15% of dwellings have no access to private outdoor space. Only 25% of flats have outdoor space and dwellings in the most deprived areas are least likely to have private outdoor space.

It is not just for local authorities to take actions on these issues, we can all help. For every single journey we need to make, the less we drive, the slower we drive, the more we cycle and the more we walk, the more space we are making for all ages to enjoy and play. We have an opportunity to change our mindsets which will improve play space, mentalhealth and wellbeing, as well as the air quality for all of us. Lets make space to play and breathe.



Life in the time of Covid.19 – Self isolation as a teenager. Day 19

Day 19: making the most of Easter in isolation

Today my dog turns 9 months old. As a special treat, my mum and I took him out on an extra long walk this morning. We walked through the farm fields, the forest and round the outskirts of a beautiful golf course nearby. The sun shone and the birds sang for us the entirety of the walk. It was an incredible way to start my day.

In the afternoon, my sister and I decided to do some baking. As Easter is approaching, we were reminded of our favourite cake that our uncle used to make every year for Easter Sunday – carrot cake! I remember when I was young, my grandma and granddad would set up an Easter egg hunt in their garden for my cousins and I. We would all have a bag hidden somewhere with our names on it and whoever found theirs first would get the biggest slice of carrot cake! I’ll really miss seeing my wider family this year for Easter but thankfully we can use apps like Skype and Zoom to video chat with each other.

This evening, my family and I decided to create a competition. Every night we change who the chef is to keep it fair and to make sure no one gets bored of cooking every night. The competition is to score the meal out of five stars, and each night we place our vote on a timetable I drew up. At the end of lockdown we will see who got the most stars added up over every meal we have made and the winner will get the grand prize – a three course meal of their choice with their favourite homemade cocktail all made by the 4 of us who didn’t place first.




Life in the time of Covid.19 – Self isolation as a teenager. Day 12

Day 12: birthday in lockdown

Today was the day that was supposed to be my last day of school. We were supposed to have had a big party in a field near our school with bouncy castles, music and a barbecue. Sadly, due to lockdown, none of this took place. Thinking about what today should’ve been really made me sad.  Since first year this was the big day that you looked forward to and anticipated. And we couldn’t celebrate in the way we should have. It seems really unfair.

So instead of this, as a year group, we decided to have a big group FaceTime on an app called ‘Houseparty’. It was fun to chat with everyone again and hear all about each other’s lockdowns so far. I really liked using this app to chat with my friends and would recommend it.

As well as today being our imaginary last day of school, it is also my mum’s birthday. For her birthday we decided to cook a full English breakfast and bring it to her in bed. My sister and I made the food and my brother was assigned to making us all tea and coffee and bringing all the presents to my mum’s room. Once we had eaten, it was time for presents! We got her her favourite champagne and favourite chocolates. I also made her a birthday card as I’ve always loved drawing and art.

To celebrate her birthday evening, we made homemade pizzas and all had a small glass of champagne. So even though her birthday was spent in lockdown, we still had a laugh and made the evening special.



Life in the time of Covid.19 – Self isolation as a teenager. Day 10

Day 10: a little normality

I spent this morning sitting in the garden with my big sister. We both are big coffee drinkers and are especially fans of Starbucks. Because of lockdown, Starbucks is shut at the moment so to make it feel like a normal Starbucks drink, we made ourselves a coffee with Starbucks coffee grounds and drank out of our branded Starbucks cups. This made us feel better about being cooped up in the house and it brought a little normality back to our day. Dave the dog kept us company while sitting in the garden.

For my breakfast, I made a batch of my favourite homemade granola. I use an online recipe and it’s all healthy things that go into it. To make it even better I ate it with Greek yoghurt and honey which was delicious!

This afternoon, me and my brother and sister decided to play a game of cards online with our dad. It’s been really tough to not see my dad as regularly as usual and the four of us always play cards together. So doing this was a great way to reconnect with our dad. We played a game called ‘hearts’ and there was lots of betrayal and ganging up to try and mess over whoever was winning at the time. My family and I are all competitive, and as a result of this, we never have a dull game of cards. That at least hadn’t changed.



Life in the time of Covid.19 – Self isolation as a teenager. Day 9

Day 9: coping

Today was a very slow start indeed. When my alarm woke me I truly did not want to leave my bed. Every day has been tough in it’s own ways but today felt even harder. Everyone’s morales felt low this morning which made it even more difficult as sometimes we can help each other.  But not today.

My dog, Dave, was acting up on the morning walk which felt as though it was foreshadowing the theme of the day to come. But thankfully, the day did brighten up. My brother went on a long run which always helps his mood. My mum went into the garden and worked out there for hours which she loves to do. My sister and her boyfriend (who has moved in due to lockdown) took Dave on another walk and this time he behaved really well.

And I decided to do what I do best. Organisation. In order to organise my mind, I love to make timetables of my day, week or even life! So, I began making a daily timetable for everyone in the house. This was including times Dave would be walked, when people would go out for their exercise, when we would do yoga and when the “at home” workers of the house would do their work. I colour coordinated everything and did fancy writing.  It makes me happy to look at it.



Life in the time of Covid.19 – Self isolation as a teenager. Day 8

Day 8: strange times

Today I woke up to bright sunshine and warmth. This was a welcome change compared to the past couple days of rain and cloud. I decided I would make the most of it by sitting in my back garden, having breakfast and reading my book. After this I went on a long walk by myself. After about an half an hour of walking I decided to take a break and sit at the duck pond that I came across. I watched a few young kids who were there with their parents feeding the swans. This reminded me of when I was a child, my family and I used to go to the river in my town to feed the different birds. I wished today that I had bread with me so I could feed the swans like I did when I was young. But watching them splash around and nibble away at the bread crusts made me feel as though I was part of it now, even from far away.

When I was walking home I saw one of my friends from school. We stood two metres apart and talked to each other briefly. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do when you see someone you know on the street, you can’t ignore them, but we kept our distance and had a shouty conversation with each other.  It was so odd speaking to someone in person – its amazing how quickly we’ve got used not to seeing people face to face. It was great to see her again after what seemed like the longest week ever! It made us both frustrated that we couldn’t walk side by side like normal or talk for long but I suppose that’s the way things are at the moment. We spoke about how school had been rushed to an end and how we would’ve both appreciated the extra two weeks we should have had. It’s a real shame we didn’t get our sixth year end like we hoped for but whilst we spoke we realised that we did in fact turn the last couple days of school into a good laugh. As we both set off home it felt strange not to hug her goodbye but I fought the urge and walked home slowly.



Life in the time of Covid.19 – Self isolation as a teenager. Day 6

Day 6: making the best of lockdown

Not much happened today until the evening which I suppose is bound to happen at some point. It felt strange having nothing to do and not being able to go out and see anyone different. Today is the first time I’ve really properly thought about the gravity of the situation and I guess it’s because I didn’t have any distractions all morning and afternoon. There’s always going to be days that are worse and that pass much slower than others and I suppose we all have to find a way to accept that and keep busy and distracted. But it’s really difficult. I miss my friends a lot, and it feels wrong not to be going to someone’s house for a gathering tonight.

So for this evening, we decided to get dressed up, put makeup on, do our hair and have a family games night. I’m going to cook this evening as we’ve all been taking turns to help my mum out. I’ve always loved cooking and baking so I decided to cook one of my favourites for the family tonight. Spinach linguine with a spicy tomato and bacon sauce – delicious! After we ate, we decided to play cluedo which is a family favourite of ours. We spent the evening together listening to music and chatting. Although us being locked up in our house together isn’t ideal, it’s given us lots of time to catch up with each other which we don’t really do anymore as a family as everyone is off doing their own thing. It’s been really lovely to get up to date with my family’s lives – one silver lining at least.



Life in the time of Covid.19 – Self isolation as a teenager. Day 5

Day 5: old habits

This morning, I tried to give myself a lie in. I still woke up at 8:00am but I stayed in bed for an extra hour reading my book. I used to love reading when I was little but as I got older I started to read less and less due to other stuff being more attractive – social media and modern technology. Now I’m stuck in the house and spending quite a bit of time on devices I’m taking this time in quarantine to get back into things I used to enjoy as I have more than enough time(!).

For my one piece of outdoor exercise today I chose to go on a cycle. It was so lovely to get out of the house and see other people – at a distance of course, but some people waved as I went along which was nice. Cycling is another thing that I used to really enjoy doing when I was younger, particularly with my friends when I was in primary school. Being out on my bike made me think about all the summer nights we would spend cycling around town together and exploring places we’d never been before. I decided to relive some of those memories by going to a couple of places I used to hang out.  There weren’t many people out and about so it was easy to keep my distance from anyone. It was such a relief from being cooped up in the house for the last few days and I know that I’ll definitely go out more once lockdown is over.



Life in the time of Covid.19 – Self isolation as a teenager. Day 4

Day 4: routine

As of today, I’ve decided to set my morning alarm for 8:00am every day. This will keep a routine to my days which will help maintain some normality throughout this crazy time! I came across some colouring books and I started off my day with some colouring in with my mum. I used to love colouring in especially when I was little so this made me feel quite nostalgic and put a smile on my face.

After this, I helped my mum with some jobs around the house. We put the music on loud in the house while we did our chores, which kept up our morale. Since the lockdown began it’s been hard for everyone to stay happy or hopeful due to the lack of social contact with our peers and wider family. By doing simple things like listening to music we love, all together, we are helping to keep our mindsets as positive as possible.

As well as that we decided that as a family we would do a yoga session and a work out today after lunch. So, at around 2pm we set up exercise mats and started to stretch. This was great fun and made us all laugh seeing each other follow our mum’s yoga routine.  I’m not quite as flexible as I thought, but if lockdown continues, I’ll maybe surprise myself….




Life in the time of Covid.19 – Self isolation as a teenager. Day 3

Day 3: getting into the swing of things

When I woke up this morning my room was a mess. I’ve spent quite a lot of time in it lately so I suppose that was always going to happen.  I decided then that cleaning it would be my first task of the day. I put on some of my favourite music and danced around as I tidied. This made the job more fun for me, but perhaps less fun for people downstairs 🙂

For the next few weeks of ‘lock-down’, as well as getting exercise and fresh air, I’ve decided I’m going to eat as healthily as possible (as long as we can get the food we want at the shops). So, for today, I made my own “Buddha bowl”. A ‘Buddha bowl’ is a super healthy meal consisting of rice, seeds, lettuce and one type of protein, for example, meat, fish or tofu. I chose salmon and fresh veg for my lunch today.  It looked fabulous and tasted delicious!  I realise that some foods may get less available as time goes on, but for now I’m lucky to have enough.

During a time like this I think it is very important to stay healthy, due to being indoors most of the day and not being able to socialise. I think we need to make sure we’re looking after our bodies by using the time we are given for our daily exercise but also by eating healthily and looking after our minds.  At least we know more about mental health than we used to, and I’ve seen lots of social media posts about keeping well.  To look after my mental health, I’m going to try yoga, which I’ve always been interested in but haven’t had time to try.

After spending most of the day indoors, I went out for my exercise with my dog around my neighbourhood.  I made sure to stay at least 2 metres away from other people – but it seemed like other people were doing the same.  It was good weather today which made my walk enjoyable.  It’s definitely starting to feeling like spring at least.