New university project encourages children to swap screens for the outdoors

PhD student has been looking into the various distractions at home that can discourage outdoor play.

Primary school pupils in East Lothian have been encouraging children to get out and about in their community thanks to a new university project.

Silvia Veiga-Seijo, a PhD student at Queen Margaret University, has been leading the project at Whitecraig Primary School.

She’s been looking into the various distractions at home that can discourage outdoor play, including screens and devices, as well as other external attributes that can put children off playing in their community – such as vandalism and bullying.

The pupils have been encouraged to rethink about how they play after being put in control of their own learning.

Now they are hoping more youngsters in the community will come along for the ride after they worked to improve their local park.

The children worked together to campaign for the park’s basket swing to be put back after it was targeted by vandals.

One pupil, Cassie, told STV News: “Ages ago we got our basket (swing) taken away from us and they were doing really dangerous things on it and they were flipping it round.

Pupils Aarvi and Zuza on the basket swing in their local park they campaigned to get back after it was vandalised. STV News

“Now we’ve got it back because people are being more sensible at the park and being more kind.”

Another pupils, Kian, said: “We want more people to come to the park so the parks not empty, loads of people come at summer time and the parks full but at winter and autumn time, barely anyone’s here.”

Aarvi, a third pupil, added: “We’re starting to understand more how to play in different ways, play in different countries, people I’m personally from a different country, she’s from a different country and we also have other people in our school that are from a different country.”

Principal teacher Isla Cran said: “I think this has been amazing for our children because they have stopped just thinking about always having to have something to entertain them and actually they’re the best people that can come up with the ideas and the things to do.

“It’s not just about having a computer and sitting in front of a TV, it’s about them participating and becoming leaders of their own learning and their own learning in play.”

The youngsters are now hoping to continue spreading the word to help create more play-friendly communities across Scotland.

Veiga-Seijo said: “The key message is that they want more children to come and play with them and they want to play together so them it’s really important being together in their community and I think through this project and through doing this qualitatively together, we created change.”

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