When I was in grade school, I would count the minutes until lunch break. After eating my packed lunch, I anticipated the fun and excitement I would have from playing games such as hide and seek, touch ball, hopscotch and the like. From playing active games I developed skills and techniques that worked for me, giving me a positive outlook and openness to learn and explore more. Playing these games developed important values in me such as passion, resilience, focus, determination which I later found indispensable in order for me to be my best. Being passionate, experiencing fun, laughter and excitement is one of the results of active play, something we can all have more of as we are constantly enticed with new gadgets and technology encouraging passive past time.
When play is not just play
There really is more to play than fun and games. This is being recognized the world over. In the Philippines, I attended the “Di Lang Laro Ang Laro,” campaign, which was launched in partnership with the Education Department, Play Pilipinas and Johnson and Johnson Philippines. This campaign advocates for the role of 1 hour of daily active play in children’s health and holistic development.This is aligned with Unicef’s Early Childhood Care and Development program, which advocates learning through play in education centers throughout the Philippines for children, as well as with the World Health Organization’s recommendation that children between the ages of 5 and 17 should have at least 60 minutes of physical play daily for proper physical and mental development.
The campaign also responds to a need shown by a study commissioned by Johnson & Johnson Philippines where mothers with four to nine year old kids in GMA acknowledged that while they know the value of daily physical activity for their kids, they inadvertently ended up encouraging study time while discouraging play time.
Play Pilipinas, a local NGO dedicated to promoting children’s rights to play. “We only have to look back to our childhood days to be convinced of how free play is a learning tool, helping us discover our capacities,” said Sigrid Perez, executive director of Play Pilipinas.
Representatives from the main partners also gave their own insights on the importance of play.
“We at the Department of Education support this advocacy because we believe that children can also learn skills and values outside the classroom,” said lawyer Tonisito Umali, assistant secretary for Legislative Affairs at the Education Department.
“When you encourage and participate in play, you recognize not only the child’s right to play, but the child’s right to be a child. Enter the child’s world of play. You will be better parents. You will have healthier and smarter children. All of you will have fun!” said Maria Mercedes Chavez, Unicef ECCD specialist.
The launch was hosted by Luisito “Bodjie” Pascua, who is more popularly known as “Kuya Bodjie” from the iconic children’s show “Batibot.”
Fellow advocate, songwriter and singer Barbie Almalbis-Honasan also says that she considers it important for her child to learn communicating with others through play. “I noticed that they easily make new friends on the playground, especially when they are with children around their age. From there, they get really creative and come up with their own games and make up their own rules.” she serenaded guests her rendition of the classic APO Hiking Society song, “Bawat Bata.”
It was also the first time that the campaign’s advocacy TVC, which features Bro. Armin Luistro, was shown to the public.
Part of the campaign’s sustaining activities includes 365 Days of Play game where parents and children are encouraged to submit their own active play games. Chosen entries will be posted on the Johnson’s Baby Facebook page, facebook.com/johnsonsbabyphilippines.
“We at Johnson and Johnson commit to sustaining this advocacy. Together with Play Pilipinas, we are building “Palarujuan” as a reminder that play has huge benefits on our children’s development,” said Sean Zantua, HR and CSR director of Johnson and Johnson Philippines. “We also invite our guests and their children to submit their entries for the 365 Days of Play game.”
“In promoting the role of play in children’s health and development, we also hope that even we adults can pick up a thing or two about play,” said Trina Almario-Tanlapco, group brand manager of Johnson and Johnson Philippines. “Far from being idle time, play has the power to make our kids more creative, social, strong, smart and more. Easy-access playgrounds like ‘Palarujuan,’ are there for kids and parents alike to rediscover for themselves the power of play. A daily dose is good for everyone.”