PARENTS and carers are being urged to sign up to become ‘play ambassadors’, as part of a new programme being run by Hillingdon Play Association (HPA).
Under its Volunteering in Play scheme, people sign up to a programme of up to six weeks, during which they learn the benefits of the different types of play.
They are encouraged to then spread the message in their neighbourhoods.
On Friday last week, Nick Hurd, MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner and minister for civil society, was invited to HPA HQ at Hayes End Community Centre to launch the programme. HPA chairman and fellow MP John McDonnell (Labour, Hayes and Harlington) was also there to mark the occasion.
The HPA was formed in 2002, but it has been restructured after losing its main lottery funding last October.
Mr McDonnell said: “We took the view that grants will come and go, so to secure the future of the association we needed to be more dynamic and build our volunteer base.
“Enthusiastic young people have been getting involved as well, which is tremendous.”
The project has been jointly funded by Hillingdon Community Trust and Social Action Fund. The latter was created to support the coalition government’s Big Society vision, which is being led by Mr Hurd.
Sam Sunnerell, community volunteer co-ordinator for HPA, said: “Our aim is to make Hillingdon child-friendly, and to promote the benefits of play and the importance of getting children back out into green spaces doing the things that they should be doing, rather than sitting in front of a TV.
“We want parents to move away from the notion that play is all about the latest gadget. You can buy a child the latest games console, but they can have a lot of fun just with the box.”
HPA’s three-day Rock the Park event at Hayes End Community Park, celebrating National Play Day at the end of July, attracted hundreds of people.
Children will be encouraged to ‘get messy’ with mud pies, bug collecting and pumpkin carving at the next two family fun days, being held at Hayes End Community Centre, off Kingsway, on October 31 and November 1, between 11am and 4pm.
■ If you are interested in becoming a play ambassador, call 020 8573 8868, or email email@example.com.
Or visit the HPA website, at www.hillingdonplay.org.uk.