International Day of Play Date in the current year: June 11, 2024

International Day of Play International Day of Play is a United Nations international day observed annually on June 11. It was created to highlight the benefits of play for all people, especially children, and to promote, preserve, and prioritize playing.

Play is usually defined as an activity done for enjoyment and recreational purposes. Playing is most commonly associated with children, but adults can engage in play, too. Moreover, play is common among higher-functioning animals, most notably birds and mammals.

Play is often dismissed as a frivolous activity, but it has long been proven that play has a crucial role in child development. It helps children develop important cognitive, creative, emotional, social, and physical skills, build relationships, improve control and problem-solving, and even overcome trauma. Play also helps children learn by making learning more enjoyable. Research has shown that restricting a child’s opportunity to play has a direct negative effect on their development and well-being.

Play is also believed to have a positive impact on a global scale. As a universal language that transcends boundaries, it helps promote tolerance and facilitate conflict prevention, peace building, and social inclusion. So it is not surprising at all that the United Nations recognizes the importance of play and lists it as a fundamental right of every child, as stated in Article 31 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

The International Day of Play campaign was initiated by the LEGO Group and the LEGO Foundation. They brought together a network of organizations, including the International Play Organization, Right to Play, Eurochild, Mattel’s Play it Forward and more, and successfully called on the UN General Assembly to designated June 11 as International Day of Play. The observance was officially established by a resolution adopted in March 2024.

The main goal of this international day is to celebrate the power of play and promote the idea that every child can reach their full potential if they have the time, space, and access to play. One of the ways to ensure this is to get play integrated into education and community settings, which requires special policies to be put in place, as well as funding and training. The ultimate aim is to create a world where all children, especially those from vulnerable and marginalized communities, have access to safe, inclusive, and diverse play spaces, and the right of every child to play is protected and fulfilled.

There are many ways to get involved with International Day of Play. The most simple one is to make some extra time to play with your children – or with your friends, or by yourself, because adults need play too! You can also organize a fun play-focused event for children in your community and spread the word about the power of play on social media with the hashtag #InternationalDayOfPlay.

International Day of Play is not the only observance dedicated to the many benefits of playing. For example, Global School Play Day is celebrated on the first Wednesday of February every year. It raises awareness of the importance of unstructured (free) play for children of all ages, particularly in educational settings.

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