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A DAY TO PLAY

- Health Unit Urges Families to Ditch Digital Devices and Plug into Play This Coming Long Weekend -

If you want to ‘like’ something this long weekend, forget Facebook. Instead, enjoy a day of ‘play’ with your family – one that doesn’t involve a PlayStation or Xbox.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is encouraging local families to swap screen time for play time this Family Day long weekend (Feb. 18-20). Young children need play to learn, grow and be healthy, and that’s where unstructured, child-led activities – or ‘free play’ – like running, jumping, dancing and pretending can make a world of difference.

“We know young children are spending more time in front of TV, computer and phone screens,” says Catherine MacDonald, a Family Health Nurse with the HKPR District Health Unit. “We need to reverse the trend, so children enjoy the benefits of free play. And what better time to play with your child than the holiday weekend set aside for families!”

Free play allows families to spend quality time together, while also letting children use their imaginations and creativity. Kid-led play is more likely to hold the interest of children, while allowing them to practise their decision-making skills, move at their own pace, pursue their passions and be more independent. Free play is also good for children to learn collaboration and social skills, as well as develop physical skills and dexterity.

MacDonald says there are many ways families can play together – this long weekend and every day:

• Get outdoors by taking a winter hike, making a snowman, or building a snow fort.

• Make your own musical instruments, and dance or move to the music.

• Play dress up together.

• Play hopscotch around the house, tag or hide-and-seek.

• Set up an obstacle course using couch cushions for your child to navigate.\

• Have a ball together by rolling, throwing, kicking, or tossing around different kinds of balls. Parents can also visit the Have a Ball Together website for more ‘play’ ideas.

• Encourage your children to lead the way and experience fun from their perspective!

For media inquiries, contact:

Catherine MacDonald, Family Health Nurse, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100, or 1-866-888-4577.

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