Creative free play

By cypscadmin, Wednesday, 26th February 2020 | 0 comments
Filed under: Health, Education.

Over 7,000 children in County Clare are excited to receive delivery of The Imagination Playground, a modern resource that assists in the development of children’s motor and cognitive skills.

Building Healthy Minds:

Healthy Ireland and Clare CYPSC have brought Imagination Playgrounds to County Clare schools and preschools.

County Clare Schools with on-site preschools, were invited to apply for an Imagination Playground and each application was assessed on its merits by an independent appraisal group.  The most recent delivery of 7 playgrounds arrived in Clare on the 26th February 2020.  This excitng delivery brings the number of children accessing an Imagination Playground in County Clare to 7,000.  

An 18 foot lorry, which travelled from Belfast, made its first playground delivery at Barefield National School, Ennis, and was greeted with a rapturous welcome from the awaiting pupils and staff. The 18ft lorry then continued on its journey across the county delivering to the 6 other education centres - schools and pre-schools including Crusheen National School; St Tolas National School, Shannon; Gaelscoil Mhichil Ciosog, Ennis;  Scoil Iosef Naofa,  Lahinch; Stonehall National School, Newmarket on Fergus; and Ennis National School. Early years services operating on the site of these schools are equal co-users of the resource for their children also.   

Schools that received an Imagination Playground through the CYPSC/Healthy Ireland fund in 2018 were Ennis Educate Together National School Ennis; Holy Family Senior School, Holy Family Junior School, Ennis;  Scoil Chriost Ri, Ennis and St. Senans National School, Kilrush.   

Imagination Playground contains a wide variety of giant sized loose parts, including cubes, bricks, cogs, curves, and cylinders.  They have holes and shapes that fit together in ways that allow children to build and play and follow their own ideas. Stored in large specialised containers, the playgrounds are mobile and can be moved about to create both indoor and outdoor play spaces. This Heathy Ireland funded initiative has been introduced in response to concerning trends in childhood obesity and cognitive development.

A recent DCU study entitled “Moving Well Being Well”, reported that a large proportion of children under ten years of age had not mastered essential fundamental movement skills. Ireland also has significantly fewer high-achieving students in maths and science compared to other developed countries, according to Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment).

In an age of childhood obesity and children tethered to electronic consoles, playgrounds have rarely been more important.

'Healthy Ireland is delighted to support this Imagination Playground initiative in Clare, with funding from the Departments of Health and Children and Youth Affairs.  It's so important for children's health, wellbeing and overall development that they are supported to be active and creative, including through play. All the local partners in Clare are to be congratulated in bringing this project to fruition which will have so many benefits for the children. We look forward to hearing and seeing all the fun they will have in these spaces and how their imaginations will be sparked through this initiative."

Kate O' Flaherty, Head of Health and Wellbeing in the Department of Health


In order for children to thrive and learn we need to provide them with opportunities to play and to engage their imaginations.  This is a wonderful example of how children can be supported creatively and practically to do this. Tusla is grateful for the time that Clare CYPSC has invested in this project and for the funding provided through Healthy Ireland.” 

Dr. Caroline Cullen, Area Manager, Tusla Mid-West.


"Imagination Playground develops creativity and teamwork among children of all ages and abilities. They don't even realise that they are learning as they are having so much fun!

Ms. Sharon Dilger, Principal, Holy Family Junior School, Ennis.


The mission of Imagination Playground is to encourage child-directed, unstructured, creative “free play”; the kind of play that experts say is critical to a child’s intellectual, social, physical and emotional development. The message is clear; let’s bring play back into our children’s lives!

For more information contact the Clare CYPSC Co-ordinator.

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