Letter: As a community, we should prioritize play in our children's lives

Play is all but absent in our children's over-programmed lives, as Marco della Cava notes in his story, "Calendar Is Blank on May 22." Free time needs to come back into our kids' lives, and it needs to happen now.

There is a nationwide scarcity of play, and we are beginning to see a stark difference between children who play and children who don't.

Kids who play are healthier. Kids who play are less likely to be obese and develop obesity-related health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

Kids who play do better in school. Kids who play develop the cognitive skills that are positively linked to learning and academic performance.

Kids who play, play well as adults. Kids who play build their confidence and learn the social skills that help them become happy, well-adjusted adults.

At Laurel Elementary School, we continue to host annual Play Days as a way to celebrate the city of Laurel's designation as a KaBOOM! Playful City USA Community. We also host regular clean-up days at our playgrounds, which ensures a sense of pride in our community.

I have participated in three builds sponsored by KaBOOM! to help ensure that there is a playground within walking distance of every child in America. Through efforts like this, along with a team of dedicated adults willing to advocate for play in as many ways possible, we can make play a part of every child's life. It is our obligation to ensure that the next generation is as healthy as it can be, mentally and physically, and we can start by prioritizing play.

Eileen Collins

Laurel Elementary PTA president

Member, CAC, City of Laurel Parks and Recreation

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