Stars in Wales urge people to play in support of Childhood Day


June 11, 2021

Sports stars in Wales have added their support to the growing number of celebrities championing the NSPCC’s Childhood Day, including Sam Warburton and Ant & Dec.

Wales international Helen Ward, Football Association of Wales and Swansea City FC join Dame Esther Rantzen, founder of the NSPCC run service Childline, and TV presenter Emma Willis in calling on the UK to play today in support of the child protection charity’s flagship fundraising event.

The NSPCC thinks we could all do with a bit more play and is calling on families, friends and work colleagues to celebrate childhood and give children their moment to really be kids after a difficult year.

Thousands of children and adults have already signed up to play and raise money for the leading children’s charity, with communities from all corners of the UK and Channel Islands organising play themed events.

In Wales, a five-year-old boy from Rhyl is leading a team of fundraisers to the top of Moel Famau dressed as superheroes, a sports day challenge taking place in Swansea and a hula-hooping fundraiser in Cardiff as well as teddy bear naming, sponsored walks and bingo bonanzas.

Wales international Helen Ward said: “It’s wonderful to see children being able to immerse themselves in team sports again because it can be so rewarding on and off the pitch, especially for young people who may be facing tough issues at home.

“Childline has heard from so many children about upsetting situations, so to be able to have fun and be silly with those we care about, while raising money to support the NSPCC’s life-changing work is just what we all need this summer.”

To mark their support as Childhood Day champions, Ant and Dec are releasing a video which sees them playing some fun and simple games to show just how easy it is to get playing this Childhood Day.

The challenges that children have faced such as disruption to school, cancelled exams and being separated from family and friends have had a devastating impact on the mental health and wellbeing of many young people, with Childline delivering over 73,000 counselling sessions about this issue.

The NSPCC has also found that the pandemic has increased the risk of abuse and neglect. The Childline service reported an 18% increase in counselling sessions about emotional abuse, when compared to the year before.

Following a recent online YouGov poll of 1,036 parents across the UK with children aged three to twelve, the NSPCC found that almost three quarters (74%) think play has helped their child’s mental health and wellbeing since the start of the pandemic. Just over half think it’s helped to reduce stress (53%) and prevent loneliness (54%) and 58% said its helped to support learning outside of school.

As we move out of the pandemic, it is vital we remain here for children and that they get the help and support they need to have a better and brighter future.

Those taking part in Childhood Day will not only get the chance to have fun with their loved ones, they’ll also be playing their part in helping to keep children safe by raising vital funds for the NSPCC.

Sam Warburton, NSPCC Wales Ambassador for Childhood said: “Playing can have huge benefits on our physical and mental health, so it’s great to see how people across the country are throwing themselves into our first Childhood Day in Wales after what’s been a testing year for everyone.

“Like most people, children haven’t been able to play so much in the way they usually would – with each other at clubs and sports activities - since the start of the pandemic. It’s brilliant now we can that people are really coming together to play their part this Childhood Day, hosting play activities while raising money to help prevent abuse and protect children and young people from harm.

“It’s not too late to get involved, play and have fun. There are so many ideas out there - colleagues hosting sports day challenges and lunchtime bingo sessions, and my personal favourite so far - five-year-old Leo from north Wales who is leading a team of fundraisers up Moel Famau dressed as a superhero. It’s just fantastic.”

NSPCC Cymru/Wales is calling on Welsh Government to play its part too, by putting children and young people at the centre of its recovery planning by focusing on early intervention and prevention. In a series of recommendations outlined by the charity, it highlights the need for investment in a forward-thinking plan for children that goes beyond catching up on school lessons and includes more mental health support in both the classroom and community.

The online YouGov poll of 1,036 parents in the UK with children aged three to twelve also found that just over three quarters of parents (78%) think spending time with grandparents and the wider family will be important for their child’s wellbeing this summer.

Dame Esther Rantzen, founder and president of Childline, said: “The impact of the past year on children cannot be underestimated. The challenges that they’ve faced have turned their lives upside down and many have really struggled to cope. Throughout all of this, Childline has remained a vital listening ear and our counsellors are amazed each day by the resilience that children and young people demonstrate.

“After all the disruption and uncertainty, I think it is fantastic that the NSPCC are marking the importance of play through Childhood Day, whilst fundraising for their vital work.

“As a grandparent myself, I have really struggled with not being able to see and spend time with my grandchildren. The moments when we can be together and play feel even more precious now.”

The NSPCC’s Childhood Day, which was previously piloted in specific areas of the UK, launched this year for the first time in Wales with a refreshed look and feel and a renewed ambition to celebrate childhood by getting the nation playing after a really challenging year. Over the past few months the charity has been encouraging people to sign up, download a fundraising pack and organise a play event to fundraise for the NSPCC.

Ant said: “It’s such an honour to be supporting the NSPCC’s Childhood Day today. There are so many benefits to play and sadly it is something that’s been really restricted over the last year with many children not being able to play with their friends like they normally would.”

Dec said: “As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, we want all children to have a bright future ahead of them. That’s why we’re getting involved in Childhood Day today so we can play our part for children. Check out our video and get playing!”

There’s still time to get involved and sign up to host a play event this weekend. Visit www.nspcc.org.uk/childhood-day to download your free fundraising pack with lots of play ideas.

You can also support Childhood Day and help protect children by making a donation through the NSPCC website - www.nspcc.org.uk/support-us/ways-to-give/donate/

Children can contact Childline every day of the week on 0800 11 11 or via www.childline.org.uk where 1-2-1 online chats can be requested.

Anyone with any concerns about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or visit www.nspcc.org.uk for advice.