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Playwork research covers all aspects of children at play, and the roles of those who work with them in informal settings, especially playworkers. Play is a multi-faceted behaviour involving the here and now, and also the future.

It is a fundamental human drive which has the benefit that children develop while they are playing. The lessons they learn don't just help them in later life, but also help them cope with the world as they find it today. Sadly the modern world is not very play-friendly. Factors such as the increase in street traffic and parental fears of bullying and abuse mean that children are far less likely to play outside with their friends these days.

Playwork is a generic term covering all those approaches that use the medium of play as a mechanism for redressing aspects of developmental imbalance caused by a deficit of play opportunities. At its most simple, playwork seeks to create environments that enable children to play.

Playwork research within the centre has an international reputation, as signified by the number of invitations to speak at international conferences, including the Association for the Study of Play (TASP), and the Play Therapy International Congress.

The University has recently appointed the first Professor of Playwork anywhere in the world. The Playwork Team has a wide range of research interests, including adventure play, play in schools, play deprivation, therapeutic play, playground equipment and much more. Research addresses local, national and international issues as they impact upon children’s play. Researchers are involved in supervising and undertaking PhD and MRes work.

They promote multi-disciplinary and inter-agency approaches to research and dissemination, involving stakeholders principally children, local authorities, NGOs, students, and colleagues from across the Faculty and University.

Case Studies:

The Venture: A case study of an adventure playgound

This detailed case study, which was conducted by Fraser Brown, was largely based on conversations with playworkers, past and present. The Venture is an adventure playground sited in the middle of one of the most deprived estates in Wales, Caia Park in Wrexham.

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The play behaviours of Roma children in Transylvania

The Roma children of Transylvania are probably the most materially deprived in Europe. They often live in one-room shacks made from wood and mud, with no running water, no sanitation, and sometimes no heating. Many rely on charity for their food and medicines. But, are they play deprived?

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