Greener Understanding of Article 31: Litter Pick & Play

As part of the International Play Association Triennial World Conference 2023 taking place in Glasgow, we are asking you to get involved in our Litter Pick & Play project.

Children have a right to play under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, many children face significant barriers in realising this right.

From natural disasters to everyday issues, public spaces are often unwelcoming and unsafe for children to play in. Children who are already disadvantaged by disability, poverty, and other factors, are disproportionately affected by the environment.

That is why we are asking you to work with children and young people to improve their local environment to increase and improve their play.

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Children’s rights & the Environment

Playing in natural environments positively impacts on children’s sense of well-being, fitness levels, resilience, cognitive functioning and motor ability (Bird 2007; Pretty et al 2007, Lester and Russell 2008, Muñoz, S.-A. 2009, Keniger et al 2013, Gill, 2014, Söderström et al 2013).

By playing in nature, children come to understand, appreciate and care for the natural world – it encourages “stewardship for the earth.” (IPA World, 2016)  

Children across the world are determined, resourceful, and creative when finding opportunities for play. However, many children face significant barriers in realising their right to play (IPA World, 2016). 

The global climate crisis is having a huge impact on play. The pollution of air, water, and space is increasing and this affects the safety of children at play. In emergency situations following natural disasters and other crisis, play is often given lower priority than the provision of food, shelter and medicines. However, play is one of the ways that children cope with a crisis in any context. Play hones innate skills and helps children to come to terms with what has happened (Fearn and Howard, 2012).

Everyday environments also impact play. Planning decisions on pavement widths, provision of outdoor space, rubbish removal, and even “No Ball Games” signs can have huge impacts on the quality and quantity of play available to children.

Children are likely to be disproportionately affected by environmental constraints on their enjoyment of their right to play if they live in:

  • Poor or hazardous environments
  • Poverty
  • Situations of conflict or humanitarian disaster
  • Rural communities
  • In street situations

Or if they are:

  • Asylum-seekers and refugees
  • Disabled
  • Chronically hospitalised children 
  • Migrants or internally displaced

(IPA World, 2016).

Where did the idea come from?

The project was developed and took inspiration from various consultations and projects with children and young people including:

  • Under the Same Sky
  • Moths to a Flame
  • NPF4 (Draft) Consultation
  • OSS & PSA Consultation

Each of these projects highlighted the concern children have for their local spaces. Themes of litter, waste, and anxiety around the climate crisis emerged.


Who Can Get Involved?

This is a global project and everyone is invited to take part.

We are looking for anyone who works with, volunteers with, or can organise groups of children and young people to take part.

This can be through schools, nurseries, youth clubs, community groups, or even your neighbours.



Sept 2022 – Apr 2023: Plan & deliver your event

Monday 2 May 2023: Submissions close – please submit your photos and numbers on time.

June 2023: International Play Association Conference where the results will be presented and an exhibition displayed.


How to get involved

Step One: Planning

  • Identify a local space in need of attention
  • Check regulations and contact officials
  • Write risk assessment
  • Collect Equipment
  • Advertise

Step Two: Pick & Play

  • Pick litter and tidy the space
  • Play games and have fun
  • Get creative with what you have collected
  • Take photos
  • Count up the rubbish bags

Step Three: Share Your Success

  • Tell your local representatives
  • Share your results and photos with us
  • Share on social media

Download our Toolkit for more information on these steps, an example risk assessment, and top tips.



Benefits of getting involved

By taking part in this project you will:

  • Be part of a global movement to realise children’s rights.
  • Gain a newly cleaned space
  • Engage children in being guardians to their own environment
  • Have your success story shared globally
  • Receive a certificate of participation to display

Additionally, if you are based in Scotland and you send us photos or videos, then you will be entered into a prize draw to win £100 worth of voucher.

You can use this project as evidence for the Eco Schools Award or the Rights Respecting School Award.


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