The World Play Day – 28th May

Children’s Right to Rest and Leisure, Play and Recreational Activities

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was ratified by Malaysia in February 1995, an affirmation of  Malaysia’s commitment in upholding children’s rights. The main principles of the UNCRC include children’s rights to non-discrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; children’s right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. It is vital that Malaysia realizes these four (4) cores principles, by embedding and reflecting it in all government’s decision-making process, laws and policies.

It is undeniable that the four main principles are very important, but we must not forget that the instrument includes one of the prerogatives of any child, which is the right to rest and leisure and the right to play and being involved in recreational activities that the child likes. By virtue of Article 31 of the UNCRC, it states, a child has a right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.

Commemorating the World Play Day that takes place every year on 28th May, it is an especially important time for us to understand the needs and rights of children to play, and its impact on their development, no matter from what background or walk of life they are from.

Play, in its essence, promotes growth and development of children’s mental, emotional, and physical strength. Learning and playing comes hand in hand and its part and parcel of a natural way of growing up. By playing, children learn various soft skills and interact with other children, as well as adults. This will ultimately have a positive impact on their lives. All work and no play make children’s life dull, and limits the growth of engagement and communication skills. Play has proven to provide many benefits including fostering cognitive growth and IQ, promote mature emotional intelligence, build confidence, creativity, imagination; and reduce anxiety and stress, to name a few. Play is often also used in many facets of education, therapy, and rehabilitation. Play comes in many forms and types, which demonstrate its importance and function in every aspect of children’s lives.

As Covid-19 Pandemic struck the entire world with many misfortunes and affecting normal daily activities, children were not excluded from being affected by setbacks, in terms of not being able to attend school and play. It is vital for everyone to realize this and to try our best to accommodate children’s need to rest, play and leisure. UNICEF’s report entitled ‘Family on The Edge Report’ has shown that many people, including children face several mental health problems due to the pandemic. While the situation remains tough for everyone, children as a most vulnerable group, should be allowed to play, even if it means to playing indoors and taking up new hobbies and activities.

In times such as these, children need company, attention and most importantly being able to rest and enjoy leisure with caregivers, even if it means doing simple activities together. A stroll, jog or ride in the neighborhood could also been done with observation of SOPs, as these simple activities could lead to better health outcomes for children. Making the most out of this Pandemic by being with our children, learning and playing with them counts as quality time together that they will appreciate and cherish forever. Let us then take this time to embrace play and let our children be children first with play! Happy World Play Day all!

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