Play is essential to a child’s holistic health, and each of us can do our part that every child gets to exercise their right to play.
The National Play Advocacy Week (NPAW), happening on November 16 to 22, is a week dedicated to highlighting the right of every child to play, and its importance to their holistic wellbeing. This initiative is led and organized by the Philippine Play Coalition (PPC), a network of child-focused organizations, Council for the Welfare of Children, Unilab Foundation, World Vision, Tukod Foundation, Educo Philippines, Unang Hakbang Foundation, and Kythe Foundation. PPC is also supported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the National Youth Commission (NYC).
Over the past three years, NPAW has been celebrated every third week of November as part of the National Children’s Month. Believing that play is a right, It has already been able to reach more than 150,000 Filipinos and gave access to play to more than 15,000 children across 15 regions of the country. It has also brought together more than 250 various organizations and government agencies as it strives to continuously deepen the impact of play in improving the quality of lives of Filipino children.
Now in its fourth year, the Philippine Play Coalition, together with its partners, will conduct this year’s NPAW in a time where play is needed the most. In the face of COVID-19 pandemic, and other natural disasters, play is very important to a child’s natural means of expression and coping, that not only provides them rest and leisure, but is also fundamental in their holistic development and wellbeing.
NPAW is set to reimagine play as it happens this coming November 16-22, 2020. The event kicks off with an online town hall on November 16, 2020 where children and their families are encouraged to express their concerns relevant to play especially in the time where we face not only a virus outbreak but also other disasters like the typhoon Rolly which recently struck most parts of the country and wreaked havoc in the Bicol region.
With the National Children’s Month theme, “Sama-samang Itaguyod ang Karapatan ng Bata sa Panahon ng Pandemya”, the NPAW 2020 aligns its cause with its theme: “Making Play Happen: Reimagining Play in The Time of Crisis”.
School closure, physical distancing requirements, and home confinement as a result of COVID-19 have dramatically reduced young children’s access to early learning and play opportunities and appropriate care and wellbeing. According to UNICEF, 188 countries have imposed countrywide school closures, affecting more than 1.6 billion children and youth.  Many children are therefore not able to actively participate in their regular activities outside of their homes. Under such conditions, many tend to be less physically active, have longer screen time, and may affect their holistic wellbeing and development.
According to the United Nation’s Policy Brief on COVID-19 and Children, “there are three main ways children are affected by the crisis and this includes infection with the virus itself, immediate socioeconomic impacts of measures to stop virus transmission and end the pandemic, and the potential longer-term effects of delayed implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The pandemic and the typhoon may have brought life to a standstill and its impact amongst children risks as catastrophic, but it doesn’t mean that the right of the child to play has to come to a pause.
According to Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), every child has the 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. Unfortunately, play is considered as “laru-laro lang” in many households and communities — a mindset that causes most Filipino families to view it as trivial, useless, and unimportant. Play tends to be one of the most neglected rights of a child in the country.
Anyone can help press play for every child this year. NPAW 2020 encourages to take play initiatives that can be coursed through its partnership platform at bit.ly/NPAW2020Partners. An NPAW 2020 Partner’s Toolkit can also be downloaded at bit.ly/NPAW2020Toolkit. The toolkit serves as a guideline in conducting play activities at home or through online platforms. It features the benefits of play and also contains communication materials that can be used to advertise the coolest play extravaganza of the year. You can also visit www.facebook.com/PhilippinePlayCoalition to see what more awaits you there.
The pandemic won’t stop NPAW 2020 from soaring to new heights and aspiring for a better normal for every Filipino child. Whether offline or online, NPAW 2020 is making play happen, one community at a time.