|Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, interacts with some of the young residents as they enjoy their new play park facilities at Gall Hill. (A. Gaskin/BGIS)|
Play parks across Barbados have a significant role to play in building stronger families, bringing communities together and promoting healthier lifestyles.
Chairman of the National Conservation Commission (NCC), Tyrone Lowe, made this assertion during the opening of the Gall Hill Play Park in Christ Church, last Saturday.
"These parks help a lot in building family life, in linking parents and children, [and] in keeping generations connected and linked, … throughout life," he said.
He suggested that residents use the park as a meeting space for moments of togetherness, and to strengthen cords of fellowship, families and community cohesion.
The Chairman added that such parks should also be seen as a "resort away from stress and the demands of life", and to promote healthy lifestyles and sporting activities, thereby helping to reduce chronic illnesses.
"I have come across a lot of situations where the health of our nation is really a worrying factor, and I hail the efforts of those who are doing their best to promote healthy living. I want to associate the NCC with this venture," he stated.
Noting that the new play park was the 54th opened by the NCC over the years, General Manager Keith Neblett, said more parks established in communities across Barbados meant more children were taken from watching television and parents were encouraged to come out.
"Play parks are one of the few things that I know that bring communities together. It forces parents to come out to see the children play, and those who did not speak to each other start to communicate. The children bring a sense of balance," he said.
Mr. Neblett said the establishment of parks in communities was one of Government’s policies to ensure that every strata of society was provided with adequate provision for recreation.
He added that the NCC’s relationship with the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, was important as it worked closely with the National Sports Council.
In his address, Minister Lashley also stressed that family life was about parents and children interacting and finding quality time to spend with each other. "Play is a very important part of our development…," he said.
The Minister added: "I believe that a play park on its own is very important. The notion of a play park is not only fun… We are sending a signal that we are very interested in the wholesome development of our children. Our children need to exercise, they need to run about, they need to laugh, they need to talk and they need to cry. But, unless the environment is created for them to do that, then we will have some challenges," he cautioned.